How Long Does It Take To Get On Social Security Disability?

Aug 26, 2012 Comments Off on How Long Does It Take To Get On Social Security Disability? by

Question: How long does it take to get on Social Security disability?

Answer: Anywhere from a month to several years, which isn’t much of an answer but it’s the only accurate answer I can give in one sentence.

If you are really, really sick, as in terminally ill or you have a serious illness or condition that Social Security wants to approve quickly, it could be a month. That’s not many people and you don’t want to be that sick. You could also get lucky and be approved quickly but the odds are that you won’t be so lucky. Let’s talk about some more realistic time frames:

  • Initial — two to six months — recently towards the lower side for most people, but the odds are you won’t be approved at the initial level and you’ll have to request reconsideration.
  • Reconsideration — two to six months — again, recently towards the lower side for most people, but the odds are even higher that you won’t be approved at the reconsideration level and you’ll have to ask for an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ hearing.
  • ALJ Hearing — twelve to eighteen months, including the time it takes to get a decision after a hearing. Lately, the time frame at the ALJ hearing level has been getting longer. You’re more likely to win at the ALJ hearing level but if you don’t, in most cases you can then start over again which puts you back at the initial level, or you can request Appeals Council review.
  • Appeals Council — three to twenty-four months. Recently, most cases seem to be going over a year. It’s very rare to win outright at the Appeals Council. You’re more likely to get a remand, that is for your case to be sent back for a new hearing, but the chances of a remand are only about 20%. If you get turned down by the Appeals Council, you can go to U.S. District Court.
  • U.S. District Court — three months to two years. Most cases take a year or so. It takes longer if you live West of Raleigh, putting you in the Middle or Western Districts of NC. Again, you’re very unlikely to win outright in District Court but you have a good shot of getting your case sent back for a new hearing.

 

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About the author

Charles Hall is the lead attorney for the Charles Hall Law Firm in Raleigh, NC. He has been practicing in the Social Security Disability law field since 1979, is published, and is ready to help new clients win their benefits in North Carolina.