The average processing time for a Social Security Disability or SSI claim varies depending on your geographical location. Once your initial application is complete, it may take from three to five months before you receive a disability determination from the Social Security Administration.
If you are denied at this point, you have a right to appeal within 60 days. It may take several months for the Social Security Administration to reconsider your claim. If your claim is denied at the reconsideration level, you again have a right to appeal within 60 days to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. The wait time for a hearing is normally from 12-18 months.
In May of 2010, the national average from the time a hearing is requested to the date of decision was 424 days. After your hearing has taken place, you will generally receive the decision within two to four months. If your claim is denied at the hearing level, you can appeal to an Appeals Council also within 60 days. The Appeals Council can take over a year to issue a decision on your claim.
On the whole, it can take many months, even years to receive a final decision on your claim; therefore, it is important that you make timely requests for appeal and highly recommended that you find an attorney to represent you to ensure that these deadlines are met and the proper arguments are made in your case.
Twenty pages about applying for and winning Social Security Disability benefits in Heard & Smith's guidebook. Get the guidebook now.