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How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?

There is no set time frame for a Social Security or SSI disability claim to be approved or denied. The length of time it takes to make a disability determination depends on a broad range of variables, including how many times you have to go through the disability process (initial claim, reconsideration, and hearing). Each level of the process takes time and there is no guarantee that you will be approved on your first disability claim.


Average decision waits at each level

For instance, it takes anywhere from thirty to ninety days to get a decision on your initial disability claim. If your initial disability application is denied, you must appeal your denial by filing a request for reconsideration appeal. Your reconsideration appeal takes about sixty days to receive a decision.

If the reconsideration appeal is denied, you must appeal your denial by filing a request for an administrative law judge disability hearing. For most disability applicants, this level of the disability process is the longest and most frustrating. Due to large hearing backlogs at most disability hearing’s offices, many disability applicants must wait twelve months or more to get a disability hearing.

However, while the wait time for a disability hearing can cause significant emotional and financial hardship for disability applicants, this level of the disability appeal process also offers them the best chance of being approved.

The national disability hearing approval rate if about sixty–five percent, which is very good if you consider that another ten percent of cases are dismissed rather than denied. The denial rate for disability hearings is about twenty-five percent and that is the lowest denial rate of any level of the Social Security disability process.

Quicker decisions on disability claims

Fortunately, not all disability applicants have to go through the entire disability process the first time they file for disability. Social Security uses some streamlining procedures to adjudicate disability claims that involve the most serious medical conditions.

For instance, if a disability applicant has a terminal condition their disability claim is expedited through the TERI process. TERI designated disability cases are generally processed in less than thirty days. Even if an applicant’s disability claim does not involve a terminal condition, Social Security has a couple other programs that help push disability claims involving an impairment that is likely to result in approval through the disability process quicker. They are the quick disability determination (QDD) and Compassionate Allowances processes.


Regarding QDD, Social Security’s electronic disability process allows disability claims to be put through a program that analyzes elements of the disability claim to determine if it will most likely result in an approval for disability benefits. Once a disability claim is designated as a QDD claim, it is on track for a quick disability decision.

The compassionate allowances process helps Social Security identify disability claims that involve conditions that always meet the qualifications or criteria of the impairment listings contained in the Social Security disability list of impairments commonly referred to as the Blue Book. Currently, there are one hundred and thirteen compassionate allowance conditions with more likely to be added to the list in the years to come.

Some individuals will receive an approval for disability benefits even if none of the above mentioned processes can be used on their initial disability claim. Roughly, thirty-five to forty percent of all initial disability claims result in an approval for Social Security and SSI disability benefits. Some disability applicants meet or equal the requirements of a Social Security disability impairment listing while others are approved through medical vocational allowances.


Article via SSDRC

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