There is simply no way to determine or predict how long a case will take. Unlike other programs (such as the Department of Social Services, for example), the federal Social Security disability program, unfortunately, does not have deadlines to issue decisions on applications or appeals.
There may be steps you can take to speed up your case. You can learn more in our “How To Speed Up Social Security Disability Claims” article.
Although there are no time limit deadlines to issue decisions, the following attempts to give some estimates of how long each stage of the disability process typically takes.
Social Security advises that it may take up to 6 to 12 months to issue a decision on a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI or SSD) or SSI claim. That being said, the average length of time it typically takes to receive a decision on your initial application is from 6 to 9months. It can vary depending on several factors, but primarily on:
- The nature of your disability;
- The number of medical providers you identified in your application;
- How quickly we obtain medical evidence from your doctor or other medical source;
- Whether it is necessary to send you for a medical examination in order to obtain evidence to support your claim; and
- If your claim is randomly selected for quality assurance review of the decision.
Request for Reconsideration
The first appeal after an initial denial is a Request for Reconsideration. A “Recon” Request typically takes between 6 and 9 months to be decided. The length of time at this stage is typically determined by the amount of new records that must be obtained, and whether a consultative examination has been ordered.
Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge
If the Request for Reconsideration is denied, the claimant must file a Request for Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). There is “good news” and “bad news” about this stage of the process. The good news is that this is the claimant’s best chance of winning (statistically). The bad news is that it can take a horrendously long time to get to a hearing.
An appeal to an ALJ usually takes much longer because a hearing has to be scheduled and heard. The wait time varies at different hearing offices. The average wait time is 10 to 12 months, but it can take as long as two years for a hearing before an ALJ to take place and for benefits to be awarded. [Note: this does not run from the initial application; this is the wait from the time the Request for Hearing is filed after Reconsideration.]
Do Denials Come Faster Than Approvals?
No. There is no correlation between the strength of a case and the time it takes to receive a decision from the Social Security Administration.