How Long Does a Social Security Disability Decision Take?

a person filling social security form

When applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, it’s important to note that it can take time to obtain them. Data from the Social Security Administration shows that more than 70 percent of applications are initially denied, and the appeals process can stretch the process out even longer.

One of the first things that a SSD attorney hears from a prospective client is, “How long will it take for me to obtain Social Security Disability benefits?” The truth is that there’s no universal answer. But hiring a knowledgeable Social Security Disability lawyer can improve your chances of getting the outcome you want.

Attorney Derek L. Hall and his team have spent more than two decades helping Mississippi residents get the SSD benefits they deserve. We’ll be there for you at every step along the way, providing the personalized, one-on-one attention you need. We also make sure to return all phone calls and emails within 24 hours.

The sooner you speak to one of our SSD lawyers, the faster we can start working to get you the disability benefits you deserve. Get a free initial consultation by calling our Jackson office or filling out our online contact form.

Initial Application and Reconsideration Decisions

Barring certain exceptions for specific illnesses or special cases, the earliest you could begin receiving Social Security Disability benefits is upon the approval of your initial application. In Mississippi, Social Security Disability claims are handled by the state Disability Determination Services agency, which operates under the Department of Rehabilitation Services. It typically takes anywhere from 30 to 120 days from the initial application date for the application to be reviewed and processed.

If your initial application is reviewed and approved, you’ll start receiving benefits shortly after your approval, usually within a matter of days. However, if your initial application is denied, you’ll need to apply for a reconsideration, which is the first step in the appeals process. You can also submit additional evidence to support your claim.

It’s a good idea to speak to an experienced SSD lawyer before starting the appeals process. An attorney can help you collect the evidence you need for a complete and convincing claim.

Once you’ve submitted your claim for reconsideration, it will likely be another three to four months before you find out whether your application was approved. Data suggests only about 30 percent of reconsideration applications are approved, so expect to wait before hearing about your benefits decision.

Appealing Social Security Disability Decisions

If your application for benefits is still denied after you’ve submitted it for reconsideration, your next step is a formal hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. You’ll need to gather additional evidence to support your claim, and it can take more than a year before you’ll get a chance to present your evidence before a judge. Again, having an attorney during this phase can be incredibly valuable and improve your chances at a favorable outcome.

While it’s frustrating that the process can take so long, it’s important to use the time you have productively to give yourself the best chance at having your claim approved. Every denial and additional appeal will add more time before you can start receiving your benefits.

If your appeal before the Administrative Law Judge is denied, you can make another appeal to the Social Security Administration’s Appeals Council. This process can take another year or so, depending on factors like the complexity of your case and how many cases are pending before the Appeals Council. It’s important to note that the Appeals Council has the right to refuse your application for an appeal, and in most cases, they end up affirming the decision of the Administrative Law Judge.

Should your appeal to the Appeals Council be denied, the final step in the appeals process is to request a hearing in federal court. Again, this process varies by state and region, depending on the caseload of the court in question. It can take up to 18 months or so to get a decision if you make an appeal in federal court. Because federal court appeals are your final option to obtain Social Security Disability benefits, getting help from a knowledgeable and experienced SSD lawyer is essential.

Tips For Getting Approved Fast

While obtaining Social Security Disability benefits may seem like an uphill battle, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of being approved quickly.

Consider these tips:

  • Make sure you include as much information as possible in your application. Most applications are denied at the initial stage because of a lack of evidence. Taking the time to obtain as much supporting evidence as possible in the early stages could end up saving you time in the long run by avoiding the appeals process.
  • If you’re in dire straits, make that clear in your application. There’s a process in place to expedite disability claims for those who are in danger of running out of food, about to lose their home, or can’t get the medical care they need. If you meet any of these conditions, make a note of it in your application.
  • If you have a terminal condition, say it. The Social Security Administration will expedite your claim if you can show you have a life-ending illness.
  • See if you qualify for a “compassionate allowance.” Those with certain medical conditions that meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability can have their applications approved in a matter of days. See if your condition is on this list of qualifying illnesses.
  • Check whether you qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits through a “presumptive disability.” There are a handful of illnesses that qualify someone for up to six months of benefits automatically while their application is processed. You can learn more here.
  • Veterans who served in active duty can also have their claims expedited. If you are a veteran, be sure to let the Social Security Administration know.

Contact a Social Security Disability Lawyer

If you’re suffering from a disability and need support, a Social Security Disability lawyer from Derek L. Hall, P.C. can be your greatest advocate and ally. We can help you fill out your application, collect the evidence you need, and meet all deadlines to give you the best chance of success at the initial application level.

Has your application already been denied? No problem. We’ll keep working to find compelling evidence that substantiates your claim for the SSD benefits you need.

Ready to talk to a Mississippi Social Security Disability lawyer? Call or contact us today for a free consultation.