How Long Does It Take to Get Social Security Disabilty?

How Long Does Social Security Disability Approval Take?

Unfortunately, it is hard to predict exactly how long it will take for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to decide your SSD case. Currently there is no law in place setting a deadline or fixed time period for the SSA to review your case. However some lawmakers have proposed doing so in the future.

The following information is based on our Long Beach Social Security Disability lawyers’ many years of experience handling Social Security Disability cases. However, these are general guidelines only – and not necessarily what your wait time will be.

Your Social Security Disability Decision Times Depend On:

  • What stage of the process you are in (initial application or appeal)
  • What County you live in
  • How fast you and your doctors submit necessary medical documentation
  • If your case is pulled for a quality review, and
  • If your case qualifies to be expedited (fast tracked).

Stages of  the Social Security Disability Decision Process

Decision times for Social Security Disability Approval vary at each stage of the application process. (These are estimated wait times based on our lawyers experience. It can take the SSA more, or less, time to decide your claim.)

Initial Application for Social Security Disability – Long Beach Lawyers

Generally it will take about three to four months to decide an initial application, from the application date.

Reconsideration for Social Security Disability – Long Beach Lawyers

If you were denied at the initial application stage, you must file for a reconsideration of your initial denial (the first step of appeal). This decision is typically rendered in about three to four months from the date you filed your request for reconsideration.

Note: In some counties in California (e.g. portions of Los Angeles County) denials at the initial application level are appealed directly to the hearing level – skipping the reconsideration step. This will reduces overall wait times until final decision by about 3 or 4 months.

Hearing Level for Social Security Disability – Long Beach Lawyers

The next step – going to a hearing – includes the time from when a hearing is requested to when an opinion is issued. At the time of writing this, the official SSA website indicated an average wait time at the hearing stage of about 11 to 13 months in Los Angeles and up to 14 months in Long Beach.

Appeals Council for Social Security Disability – Long Beach Lawyers

If your Social Security Disability claim was denied at the hearing level, you may then appeal the decision to the Appeals Council (AC). The AC has the option to decide whether or not they will review your claim. If they take your case it can take up to a year to receive the AC’s decision.

Federal Appeal for Social Security Disability – Long Beach Lawyers

If the Appeals Council (AC) either denies your request for review, or decides that the hearing decision was correct, you can appeal the decision to federal district court. The length of time it takes the federal district court to decide an appeal is about eight months from the date it was filed. You can look up the wait times for your specific state on the federal district courts website.

Other Factors Affecting Social Security Claim Processing Speed:

Quality Assurance Reviews – Long Beach Social Security Lawyers

If your case is randomly pulled for a “quality assurance review” You will have to wait longer for a decision.

Medical Records – Long Beach Social Security Lawyers

If you do not provide enough supportive evidence about your disability when you first apply, your claim can take longer. Medical records in your file are used to decide whether you are disabled, and if the SSA is waiting for your records or documentation your case will take longer.

Expedited Decisions – Long Beach Social Security Lawyers

The SSA will expedite (speed up) the Social Security Disability approval process in some critical cases. To read more about the qualifications for expediting your case CLICK HERE.