Understanding why it takes so long for your Social Security Disability claim to be approved or denied requires you to know how the Social Security Disability process works.
Many People are Applying For Social Security Disability Benefits
There are many people applying for disability benefits. You are one of thousands of people that fill out their initial applications either online or in person at their local Social Security Administration (SSA) field office every year. Because there are so many applications that are filed each year, it takes time for the SSA to process and review each one. This review time can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months on average.
Most people have their initial application denied. It doesn’t mean that your case is over and that you should give up. Social Security claimants can go through an appeal process to try and get disability benefits. It’s important that you file your appeal within 60 days of being denied or else you will need to start your claim over.
Disability Appeals Process Steps – Reconsideration and Hearing
If your initial application has been denied, we recommend that you reach out to an experienced Iowa Social Security Disability attorney at this point to get help with your case. They will file paperwork with the SSA on your behalf to appeal the initial denial decision. This part of the appeal is known as “Request for Reconsideration.”
It can take between 2 and 3 months for this part of the claim, and the majority of disability cases are denied again at this level of appeal.
The next step is a Request for Hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge. This is where the majority of the waiting time happens. There’s not enough Administrative Law Judges in the United States, so that means everyone who has appealed their case to this level has to wait a long time before they see a judge. In recent times Applicants have had to wait anywhere from 14 to 22 months or longer before they have their hearing.
Before this hearing, your lawyer will be sending any updated medical records or other evidence of your disability to the SSA. This information will be reviewed by the judge at the hearing, along with your testimony and any witness or expert testimony.
The judge likely will not make a decision about your case that day. Often, they will review your case after the hearing is completed and make a decision then. You will be notified of the decision by mail, normally within a couple of months after your hearing.
Final Social Security Disability Appeals Steps
If you are denied benefits at the hearing level, you can then request an Appeals Council review of your claim. This part of the appeals process can take another year at least, and the majority of cases are denied.
The final step in the appeals process is filing a lawsuit against the SSA in federal court. You generally shouldn’t do this step by yourself – we recommend hiring an attorney at this point in your claim if you haven’t already. It’s hard to win a disability case in federal court.
Hopefully this explains why it takes so much time for your case to be approved for benefits. If your initial application has been denied, we may be able to help. Call RSH Legal at 1-319-774-1783 or download our FREE Law Guide to Iowa Social Security Disability Claims for more information.