We do not request reimbursement of costs
(such as repayment for obtaining medical records)
from veterans nor from people who suffer from multiple sclerosis.

How Long Does It Take to Get Approved for Disability?

The time it takes to get approved for disability benefits can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the type of disability program you are applying for, the completeness of your application, the complexity of your medical condition, and the backlog of cases at the Social Security Administration (SSA). A general overview of the disability process and estimated time frames is as follows:

  • Initial Application: When you submit your initial disability application, it typically takes three to five months to receive a decision from the SSA. 
  • Reconsideration (if applicable): If your initial application is denied, you can request a reconsideration, which involves a review of your case by a different disability examiner. The reconsideration process typically takes three to five months.
  • Request for Hearing: If your claim is denied during the reconsideration stage, you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). The waiting time for a hearing can vary depending on the number of pending cases in your local hearing office. It can sometimes take 12 to 18 months or longer to receive a hearing date. 
  • Administrative Hearing: The hearing is an opportunity to present your case and provide additional evidence supporting your disability claim. After the hearing, the ALJ will decide. This can take several months to be issued.
  • Appeals Council and Federal Court (if applicable): If the ALJ denies your claim, you can request a review by the Social Security Appeals Council. The processing time for the Appeals Council can vary, and if your claim is still denied, you may have the option to file a lawsuit in federal court.

Disability Processing Time

What Happens After You Get Approved for Disability?

After you get approved for Social Security disability benefits, there are several steps and considerations to keep in mind:

  • Notification of Approval: Once your disability application is approved, you will receive a notification letter from the SSA informing you of the decision and providing details about the amount of benefits you will receive.
  • Retroactive Payments: In some cases, you may be eligible for retroactive payments, which are backdated to the date of your disability onset. This means you may receive a lump sum payment that covers the period from your start of disability to the approval date.
  • Benefit Amount and Payment Schedule: The notification letter will outline the amount of your monthly disability benefits and the schedule of when you can expect to receive payments. Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are typically paid monthly, while Supplemental Security Income benefits may be paid monthly or in certain installments.
  • Continuing Eligibility: Once approved, you must continue to meet the SSA’s definition of disability and any ongoing eligibility requirements. This may include periodic updates on your medical condition, income, work activity, and other factors affecting your disability status.
  • Disability Reviews: The SSA periodically reviews cases to ensure ongoing eligibility for disability benefits. These reviews, called Continuing Disability Reviews, are conducted at intervals depending on your medical condition’s severity and expected duration.
  • Return-to-Work Programs: If your health improves and you can return to work, the SSA offers various programs and incentives to support your transition back into the workforce.

Why Are Disability Checks Delayed?

There can be several reasons why disability checks don’t arrive on time. Some common factors that can contribute to delays in receiving disability benefits are:

  • Processing Time: The SSA handles a large volume of disability claims, which can result in delays in processing applications and issuing payments.
  • Documentation Issues: If there are missing or incomplete documents regarding your address, bank account, or other personal information, the SSA may not issue payment until the agency has up-to-date records. 
  • Administrative Delays: There are several reasons the SSA may become backed up or not issue payments on time, including changes to bank accounts and a high volume of claims and payments. 

If you have been approved for disability benefits and your payment is late or may have been stolen, the SSA instructs recipients to report delays after three business days.

When Will You Receive Back Pay?

Back pay refers to retroactive payments that cover the time between the onset of your disability and the approval of your disability benefits. The timing of when you will receive back pay depends on several factors:

  • Approval of Disability Benefits: Back pay is typically issued after your disability benefits are approved. Once the SSA approves your claim, they will calculate the back pay owed to you.
  • Lump Sum or Installments: Backpay can be paid as a lump sum or in installments. The SSA prefers to pay backpay in three installments, with six months between each payment. However, you can request a one-time lump sum payment if you have an immediate need for the funds.
  • Offset and Deductions: Backpay may be subject to specific offsets or deductions. For example, if you received other disability-related benefits during the retroactive period, such as workers’ compensation or state disability benefits, the SSA may offset the backpay amount to account for those benefits.

Need Legal Help? Contact Chermol & Fishman, LLC.

If you encounter challenges with your disability benefit, including delayed payments, a denial you believe was wrongly decided, or even problems with the initial application process, it may be necessary to speak with an attorney. 

An experienced disability lawyer in Philadelphia can help address these and other obstacles you may encounter when applying for disability benefits or appealing a denial. Schedule a free case consultation by calling 1-888-774-7243 or by completing our contact form online.

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