It is quite common for a Social Security disability application to be denied at first, and you should not be surprised if this happens to you too. Luckily, there are other courses of action that you could undertake to appeal this decision and finally receive your benefits.
However, for this, you might need to go through several stages of appealing that can be extremely effort- and time-consuming. Therefore, seeking help from a disability lawyer is essential. This way, you can better understand the waiting times for the process, and you can trust that even with waiting, you can have a clear idea of what to expect from it.
Generally, the process to appeal the denial of Social Security benefits can take between some months and years, depending on how many stages you have to go through to obtain the results desired. In the worst-case scenario, claimants have to navigate through all four stages, which are Reconsideration, Appeal Hearing, Council Review, and Federal Court. Below you will find the waiting times of each and more details on the process ahead.
What Happens After You Are Denied Your Disability Benefits?
While it is common to be denied Social Security benefits for disability after filing the first application, some processes allow you to appeal this decision. If you are refused your benefits multiple times, the whole process can take over a year to complete.
And, it is undeniable that it can be quite complicated without the right help. Indeed, you will need to put together evidence of your situation, book your appointments, and even report to a judge. That is why many applicants often put their cases in the hands of an expert social security attorney who can help them navigate through this experience.
Social Security Disability Benefits Appeal: A Timeline
The timeline below can give you clear indications about the expected waiting times for each stage you will go through after the initial denial. However, these are only estimations based on the reports published by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Social Security Disability benefits cases don’t have a deadline and can take years. However, certain cases might be resolved in just some months, while others can take much longer. Depending on your specific location and the number of claimants in the same SSA office, the time frames below can vary.
Request a Reconsideration
If you have received a letter (initial determination) from the SSA denying your request, the first step is to request a reconsideration of their decision. You have 60 days from receiving your letter to get in touch with your local SSA office and file a reconsideration.
Once this is filed, the examiner can take up to 100 days to analyze your request and come back to you.
At this stage, the most common result is another denial. Indeed, currently, only 12-13% of applicants receive a positive response. However, if your request is accepted, you won’t need to go through any other stage.
Wait time for reconsideration: 3 to 6 months.
Request an Appeal Hearing
Suppose you are denied your disability benefits during the first stage. In that case, you might carry on and request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This is called an appeal hearing. Claimants have 60 days to file a request for an appeal hearing from the date they received your reconsideration answer.
After filing this request, it can take up to 16 months (depending on State or geographical location) to get a hearing date. Then, the judge’s decision will come through in the following three to six months.
THrough an appeal hearing, claimants will have the chance to explain their situation and provide evidence; this is when most applicants succeed. However, timeframes here can vary greatly because of your geographical location and complexity of the case.
Wait time for an appeal hearing response: one to two years.
Appeals Council Review
If you have not been satisfied with the judge’s decision, you can appeal again before the Appeals Council review.
Wait time for an Appeals Council Review response: around one year.
Lastly, if none of the previous stages have yielded the results you had hoped for, you might file a civil action before the federal District Court in your area. This is the last chance for applicants to obtain their Social Security Disability benefits.
Wait time for a Federal Court response: around one year (depends on how busy your local office is).
How Can You Shorten the Wait?
To shorten the wait, you will need to obtain the benefits during one of the early stages of the process. For example, after your Appeal Hearing, you might still bring in additional evidence to help the judge close the case.
However, this can be an extremely time-consuming process, especially if you are not an expert. So, leveraging an expert social security attorney’s services can be the best way to streamline the process and obtain faster results.