How long does the disability process take?
Should I apply for disability?
If your answers match the ones below, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is likely to award you benefits.
- Are you gainfully employed? No
- Do you have a severe impairment? Yes
- Will your impairment last 12 months or result in death? Yes
- Does your disability meet one of SSA’s listed impairments? If yes, you qualify. If no …
- Are you able to work? No
How long do disability appeals take?
When should I apply for disability benefits?
Unless you have an obvious long-term disability, the best time to apply for Social Security disability benefits is 6-9 months after you stop working.
What does a disability lawyer do?
The big-picture answer is: analyze what needs to be proven to win benefits, figure out how to prove it, and gather the necessary evidence. Some of the specific tasks are:
- Obtain reports from treating doctors that are consistent with Social Security regulations
- Refer claimants to specialists for additional reports that answer questions raised by Social Security regulations
- Obtain a vocational expert’s evaluation of the claimant’s ability to work
- Ask that a prior application for benefits be reopened
- Seek a waiver of a time limit
- Request subpoenas to insure the presence of crucial witnesses or documents
- Advise the claimant on how best to prepare for and testify at the hearing
- Object to improper evidence or procedures at the hearing
- Cross-examine adverse witnesses
- Present a closing statement
- Submit a written summary of the evidence and argument
- If the claimant wins, make sure the SSA correctly calculates benefits
- If the claimant loses, request review of the hearing decision by the Appeals Council
How long will I wait for a disability hearing?
It can take up to two years from request until a hearing is held and a decision issued, but the time varies from state to state.
What are hearings like?
They are private, held in a small conference room, and last an hour or so. You will be asked about your education, training, work experience, symptoms, limitations, and daily activities.
What if I don’t file my disability appeal on time?
If you have not filed your appeal within 65 days of the date on your denial letter, you have to start over with a new claim. That new claim may result in the loss of back benefits.
What is the biggest mistake made by disability applicants?
Because the majority of appeals are granted at a hearing, failing to appeal a denial to the hearing level is the number one error … and unfortunately very common.
More detailed information on these and other common claimant questions is available in the library below.