How Long Does it Take to be Approved for Disability Benefits?

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), an applicant for disability benefits will usually have to wait three to five months for a decision. However, is that a realistic estimation? Nationally, the approval rate for people applying for Social Security Disability benefits is 41%. In Arkansas, only 37% of initial claims are approved. Many people are required to appeal their claims before receiving any benefits. Therefore, the experience is rarely the same for each applicant.

The SSA does not have a deadline for processing applications or appeals. This means that there is no legal obligation to provide an applicant an answer in three to five months. The reality is that an applicant could wait anywhere from six to twenty-four months before they receive benefits – especially if they need to appeal a rejected claim.

One way to avoid many of the common errors that lengthen the process is to engage our experienced Fayetteville Social Security Disability lawyers from the start. The application process is challenging. If documents are not provided or your medical evidence is insufficient, you could find yourself waiting years to receive your much-needed monthly benefits. Call (479) 316-0438 to begin putting your application package together.

Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits

Applicants looking to have their SSDI benefits claim approved have many questions. In addition to how long it will take, they wonder what does the process entail? What goes on behind the scenes? Who handles the application? How does the SSA determine if your medical condition is eligible? What happens if the benefits claim is denied? The best way to answer any of these questions is to speak with our knowledgeable Social Security Disability attorneys. However, below is an overview of the process.

Send the Application to the Social Security Administration

The first step in the process is sending your application and relevant evidence to the SSA. More specifically, your application will go to Disability Determination Services (DDS). Your case will then be assigned to a disability examiner. The examiner is a specialist who will collect information regarding your claim to determine if you meet the qualifications for approval.

Disability Examiner Gathers Information

The examiner assigned to your claim will gather information regarding you and your medical condition. Your case-processing specialist will review all your information and documentation. This includes contacting your treating doctor or doctors for your current medical records. At this point, an applicant could be requested to undergo a consultative examination so the examiner has a current evaluation of your medical condition. These examinations are typically short physical or mental assessments. Doctors who perform these examinations must follow strict guidelines.

In addition to requesting your medical records and speaking with your doctor, an examiner could also speak with your past employer. This information helps an examiner evaluate how your condition impacted your ability to perform your job duties.

Daily Living Questionnaire

Applicants could be asked to complete a daily living questionnaire. This document will address how your medical condition adversely impacts your daily life. In some cases, a third party could be asked to observe how you manage your daily activities.

Initial Determination

Once the examiner has reviewed all your documentation and evidence, they will determine your residual functional capacity. This is basically an assessment regarding what type of activities you are capable of performing despite your medical condition, physical limitations, or mental impairment.

The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review

After your case specialist has made a determination, your application is forwarded to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). The ODAR will schedule and holds disability hearings. Unfortunately, there is a limited number of available judges, so it is not uncommon for the application process to slow down at this point.

Application Hearing

Once the ODAR schedules your application hearing, you will be notified of the date and time. Because of the number of cases and the limited number of administrative law judges (ALJ), this process often takes quite a long time.

It is a good idea to have one of our experienced Arkansas Social Security Disability attorneys with you during the entire process. However, if your benefits claim is denied at the application heading stage, you should not hesitate to hire competent legal counsel. As stated above, the majority of initial applications are denied. Having a knowledgeable legal advocate will increase your chances of success.

Can I Expedite My Claim?

There are two specific criteria for expediting a Social Security Disability application. If a disability is classified as terminal, an application could be pushed through quicker. A terminal condition is one that will significantly shorten the applicant’s life. For example, if you have terminal cancer, the application process could be shortened.

The second criterion is known as a Compassionate Allowance. If your condition is on the Compassionate Allowance List (CAL), you will be eligible to expedite your claim. The SSA has a list of over two hundred conditions on the CAL. This provides a means for the SSA to distinguish medical conditions that meet the Social Security eligibility standards. Typically, these conditions include adult neurological disorders, specific cancers, and uncommon medical disorders that affect children and adults. If your condition falls under the CAL, your claim could be approved in as little as ten days.

Call Our Experienced Arkansas Social Security Disability Lawyers to Help With Your Application

Under the best circumstances, the application process for Social Security Disability benefits could take many months to years. Having our experienced Arkansas Social Security Disability lawyers assisting you from the very start could shorten the process and increase your odds of having your claim approved. Call (479) 316-0438 to review the application process.