How Long Does an Appeal For Social Security Disability or SSI Take?

 I just received a denial letter on my application for Social Security disability benefits. It is titled a Notice of Decision. I am unable to work at a full time job and intend to appeal the denial.

How long will the appeal process take?

The short answer is that there is no set time limit to process an appeal and there is no way to know exactly how long a disability appeal in a Social Security disability claim will take. This is so for several reasons.

First, disability cases do not have deadlines.

That being said, the Social Security district office will often say that it may take 90-120 days to process an initial application.  In Pensacola, Florida, Requests for Reconsideration (the first appeal) typically take 30-120 days to process. If the Request for Recon is denied and a Request for Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge is filed, it typically takes 13 months for the hearing to actually take place.

Second, all cases are different.  

A claimant’s impairments and medical evidence are unique. Some conditions are easy to classify as disabling, while others take longer.

Third, it depends on who is reviewing your case.

Sometimes a case is assigned to a DDS claims examiner or Administrative Law Judge who takes longer to process claims than others.  Your claim may be assigned to a claims examiner or ALJ who has three hundred cases to process, or your claim could be assigned to an examiner or judge who only has seventy-five claims to process. In short, the time to process your case may come down “the luck of the draw”.

Fourth, most states require that claimants who want to appeal must first file a Request for Reconsideration with the state disability determination agency before having a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.

You must file a Request for Recon in Florida, but you can skip the Reconsideration stage in Alabama.

If you live in one of the states that do not require the reconsideration step (notably, Alabama around here), you can file a Request for Hearing within 60 days of receiving an initial denial or Notice of Determination.

Reconsideration requests are typically completed in thirty (30) to ninety (90) days in the Pensacola, Florida area, and hearings before Judges are usually set about ten to fifteen months after a hearing is requested.

Click here to learn more about the Social Security Disability Appeal process.