Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is an important protection for millions of Americans who are unable to work because of physical and mental disabilities. However, receiving SSDI can be a tedious process. On top of the initial application process, you may be denied benefits or not given the amount you believe you need and deserve. After that, there are layers of appeals that can take months – or even years – to navigate.
At the Karl Truman Law Office, our experienced SSDI lawyers know how frustrating it can be to wait for an initial decision that has such a significant impact on your well-being. If you have any questions about your situation, we encourage you to contact our office.
Once you submit your application, it will be reviewed by a disability examiner who has to go through a set process for evaluating your application. They must ensure your information is accurate, review your work history, and assess your medical situation.
Usually, this process takes 3-4 months from start to finish, and many applicants will receive an initial determination by then.
However, if your initial application is denied – which happens in about 70% of cases – you can request a reconsideration. A reconsideration follows the same process as the initial application process and takes roughly the same amount of time (3-4 months).
Unfortunately, there is no set deadline for SSDI application reviews. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), there are several factors that contribute to how long an application takes to process.
This includes the nature of your disability, how quickly the SSA can get medical evidence, whether a medical exam is required, and whether or not they need to review the application for quality purposes.
Most of the time, delays have to do with reviewing your medical situation. The independent medical examiners assigned to your case must thoroughly review your medical history to make a decision and complete a report, and they may have to wait for your medical provider to submit the information they need to do so.
One of the most important steps for speeding up the application process is to provide as much medical information as you can with your application.
This includes the information of all physicians who have treated you, along with copies of your medical records. In doing so, you can shorten the wait time since disability examiners won’t have to wait for your doctors’ offices to send them your records.
Once you have submitted your application, the best thing you can do is stay on top of the progress of your case. This means calling the disability examiner to request regular status updates, which may help keep your claim top of mind. It may also help you identify any problems they have encountered while processing your claim, such as not being able to locate the paperwork you sent them.
An initial application denial takes the same amount of time as an initial application approval, which, as stated above, is usually 3-4 months.
However, as with approvals, there is a lot of variability. Some claims will be denied in less time while some can take up to a year.
If your claim is denied, you have 60 days to file an appeal called a reconsideration request. With this appeal, you can supply additional supporting documentation that could support your claim. However, most claims are rejected in this phase of the process, as well.
If that happens, the next step is a hearing, at which point a judge will be involved to review your case and make a decision. Unfortunately, this adds a great deal of time before you will receive a decision. Depending on your location, it can take up to 16 months before your hearing is held.
If a hearing results in a denial, claimants can then request a review by the Appeals Council. If the Appeals Council also denies the claim, the final option is filing a civil action with the federal court system.
Navigating SSDI claims is a complicated process. If you have little or no experience submitting claims, it can be all too easy to neglect important information or misunderstand your rights.
At the Karl Truman Law Office, we’re here to help. We are very familiar with how the Social Security Administration processes claims and we are here to use our knowledge and experience to help you receive the benefits you need.