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Social Security Disability And The Waiting Game

Applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits involves a lot of waiting. You need to wait to obtain to decision on your application, to actually start receiving disability benefits, and to file an appeal. Knowing how long you should expect to wait for answers during the SSD claims process can make things easier - not knowing is worse than waiting and knowing why. 

There's one time you don't have to wait. If you and your doctor think that your disability is going to last a year or more, don't wait for that year to come and go - apply right away. That will give you a head start on the process.

Initial Decision: Three to ?? Months

However, once you've applied for SSD benefits, the waiting begins. Depending on where you live, it can take months or more than a year to receive an answer - any answer. The Social Security Administration (SSA) says that it takes three to five months for initial processing. However, the waiting time for an actual decision is often much more. In Arizona, for example, the waiting time to receive an initial decision in 2012 was 316 days, according to USa Today.

Request For Reconsideration: Three to Five Months

If your initial claim is denied, then you have much more waiting if you wish to overturn the first decision. For example, the next stage, Request for Reconsideration, takes an average of three to five months for a decision. Although you will have to wait, the SSA will not wait, and requires you to submit your Request for Reconsideration within 60 days.

ALJ Hearing: 11-12 Months

If the decision at this stage is still negative, you can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). According to the SSA in February 2013, the average wait time between your request for a hearing and the actual hearing is an average of 11.6 months.

Appeals Council: One Year Or More

If you receive a negative decision after the ALJ hearing, you can pursue your claim before the Appeals Council. This usually takes at least a year and often longer.

U.S. District Court: One Year

You can file an appeal with the U.S. District Court if your claim is denied by the Appeals Council. Like a Request for Reconsideration, you must notify the court of your intent to file a lawsuit within 60 days. Only around one percent of all SSD claims get to this level. It can take at least a year to get a decision from the U.S District Court judge.

Get Help With Your SSD Claim And Reduce Your Wait Time

Depending on your situation, you could be waiting for three or more years to receive a positive decision on your Social Security Disability claim. You may be able to reduce the time it takes by having all your paperwork in order, meeting all the deadlines, and making sure you have the medical detail needed to make a decision in your case. So do what hundreds of thousands of other people have done in the past 40 years: Turn to Binder & Binder®, America's most successful SSD advocates. They will know how to structure your claim to best advantage at all stages of the process.

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