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


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One of the most common concerns following a serious injury or the development of a disability that forces an individual to stop working is a practical one. That is, most people are worried about how they and their family will survive the loss of income. For families with a sole breadwinner, this concern can be particularly pressing. However, many people fail to realize that disability applications can take up to two years to be processed and decided upon. No matter which medical condition made you eligible for disability, it’s important to be prepared for what may be a long or extended waiting period. However, providing sufficient proof of your impairment earlier in the process can, in some case, expedite the process. Fayetteville AR disability lawyer Ken Kieklak can help.

Typical SSDI Waiting Periods and Factors

With thousands of different conditions potentially leading to disability aid, all cases are different and require specific processes in order to obtain a benefit award from the Social Security Administration (SSA). In its Disability Factsheet, the government agency claims that the waiting time on an average case is three to five months with the main factor being the amount of time it takes to obtain and examine medical records and any evidence pertaining to the case.

A few other factors that may affect the time it will take for you to hear about the decision made on your request for disability aid are:

  • The source of the disability
  • Availability of education and vocational records
  • Availability of medical records, clinical test, and laboratory tests.
  • The time and effort required to retrieve the necessary evidence.
  • A possible need for medical examination by a consulting physician
  • The field office to which the application was sent
  • The applicant’s response time to any SSA requests
  • An appeal to a previous response by the SSA.

If a negative response is issued, and you feel the denial was unfair, there are several steps that can be taken. The first level of appeal available is known as reconsideration, which may take a similar period of time as the first decision did.
In case the reconsideration is returned with the same result, there’s the possibility of an appeal before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). On average, these appeals take six months. In parts of the country, it may take much longer because of administrative backlog.

Having received another negative response from the ALJ, the option to go to the Appeals Council and then a higher court can be considered. Making an appeal before a Federal District Court can add another eight months to the estimated wait time, depending on how many backlogged processes have already been filed.

Eligibility for Quick Disability Determination & Compassionate Allowances

Under the right circumstances, your case can be picked up by Quick Disability Determinations, a computer-based model that looks for cases with high chances for approval. This process helps expedite processing for claims with an extremely high likelihood of approval within days instead of months. This method has been in place nationally since 2008 and continues to be refined in order to maximize its efficiency. Additionally the Compassionate Allowance Program can also speed the award of benefits to the most needy applicants.

Under certain grave conditions, there is an expedited process called Compassionate Allowances. This prevision is for obviously disabled individuals with extremely serious life-altering or life-threatening conditions like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, certain types of cancer and other syndromes. This fast-track allowance can take a few weeks instead of months. More conditions become eligible for this method every year.

How can an Attorney Speed Up my Disability Application Process?

The assistance of an attorney can help you sort through the paperwork and submit a proper application the first time around. This saves time by reducing the likelihood of a drawn-out appeal process over a technicality or misunderstanding regarding your condition and its limitations.

In case the original request for disability was denied, an attorney can prepare and submit a request for an on-the-record (OTR) decision before the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to avoid waiting for a hearing. This request must be backed by a solid body of medical evidence.

Seeking Experienced Counsel for Disability Claims

For more than 20 years the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak has worked to secure benefits for the people who need it most. If you or a loved one has a medical condition and cannot work, it is important to speak to an experienced attorney about disability benefits. You can arrange for a free and private legal consultation by calling (479) 316-0438 or contact us online today.

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