Many people applying for Social Security disability do not realize how long it can take to finally obtain benefits. Unfortunately, there are people who have already applied and become frustrated when they discover how long the process takes. That is why it is good to understand how long the process can take at the beginning of the process. An experienced attorney will be able to answer any questions in regards to the time it will take to obtain Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits.
Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income are different from retirement benefits in the sense that the claimant needs to prove that they are disabled; therefore, it will take a longer time in order for Social Security to make sure the claimant is in fact disabled. First, Social Security needs to obtain medical records and work history to determine the claimant’s eligibility. The process of obtaining medical records copies can take weeks to months. After the records are obtained, the disability examiner needs to determine whether the claimant’s conditions can be considered disabled by Social Security’s standards. Social Security wants to make sure that they make the correct decision and that is why it can take three to four months to receive a decision at the initial level.
If the initial decision returns unfavorably the claimant needs to understand that they are able to appeal their decision. The claimant has sixty days to appeal a decision; if the claimant does not appeal in a timely fashion, this can add the perceived delay. Once the appeal is made, Social Security looks at the case again at the reconsideration level. They also obtain updated medical evidence. This process will also take an additional three to four months.
If the decision is denied at the reconsideration level, then a person can choose to appeal and request a hearing. Waiting for a hearing is what takes the longest amount of time. The time it takes to receive a hearing date will also vary from state to state. For instance the wait time for a hearing in Minneapolis, Minnesota is thirteen months and the wait time for a hearing in Columbus, Ohio is ten months. The wait time is so long because there are so many people applying for disability benefits.
Due to the long wait time, a person needs to understand the long haul they are going to have to take to obtain Social Security benefits. Sometimes people will be awarded benefits at the initial or reconsideration levels; however if a person has to request a hearing they need to understand that there is going to be a long wait time.