The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees programs that provide financial support to people with disabilities. In most cases, only individuals who have a permanent disability and meet specific eligibility requirements may qualify. According to SSA statistics, more than 69 million people received benefits from SSA-administered programs in 2019. To be eligible for certain benefits, an applicant must have previously worked and paid Social Security taxes.
Timing of the Initial Application
The SSA generally rules on an individual’s initial application within approximately 30 to 90 days. The process begins when an applicant submits their materials, and it usually takes more than 30 days to get approval because the SSA receives millions of applications each year. In addition, most applicants receive a denial the first time they apply for disability benefits.
The total time until an applicant receives a decision can also depend on how much detailed information the individual provides within their application for disability benefits. If you submit comprehensive medical evidence that documents your disability, it may take less time for the SSA to review and approve your application for benefits.
If the SSA denies your application for benefits, you have the right to appeal. The SSA will reconsider your application. However, you should appeal within 60 days of receiving your denial. If you are applying for disability after age 55, a separate set of rules may govern the process. It is important to know the rules before taking any steps.
Timing of Appeals and Hearings
In some cases, an application that is initially denied and appealed can take a significant amount of time. This process often takes three months to a year, depending on your unique circumstances. This stage may involve a hearing relating to your application and the documentation that you have provided.
The SSA generally will provide details about when and where your hearing will take place. If your case reaches the hearing stage, it may take even longer to reach a final decision, sometimes about two years.
Ways to Increase Your Chances of Getting Approved
Filing for disability benefits can be a challenging task. It is often a lengthy, complicated, and time-consuming process. If you want to make the strongest claim possible, here are a few tips that may make the process smoother. Following these helpful hints may improve your chances of reaching a successful outcome.
- Complete your application properly
Before commencing the application process, be sure to gather all of the required documentation and papers. You may require the following documents:
- Personal information, such as citizenship and birth information, marriage certificate, and children’s names and birth certificates
- Educational background and training
- Job history details for the past 15 years
- Proof of paying Social Security taxes
- Know the qualifying criteria for your disability before you apply
Learn as much as you can about the eligibility criteria for your particular condition when you seek Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. If you do not meet the requirements, the SSA will likely deny your application.
- Request status updates from your Social Security Office
The SSA receives millions of applications every year. This is why it is essential to contact your local Social Security Office to request general updates on your application.
- Do not collect other unemployment benefits
One of the eligibility criteria for disability benefits is that your disability limits your ability to work for at least 12 months. If you are incapable of engaging in substantial work activity and awaiting a decision on your application for disability benefits, you should not collect other unemployment benefits. Doing so may increase your chances of facing a denial.
- Retain documentation of your medical treatments
You will have to provide evidence of your medical condition, as well as the names of your doctors and hospital. Gather all your medical records and documentation, including blood test results, X-rays, and treatment records. This can be helpful for short-term disability, as well. Detailed records that show every detail since your disability began can play a significant role in this process.
If you have not received continuous and consistent medical treatment for your disabling condition, the SSA may require that you seek treatment before you may be able to qualify for benefits. If your application lacks trustworthy medical evidence that proves your medical condition, the SSA is more likely to reject your application.
- Follow your healthcare provider’s prescribed treatment plan
The SSA evaluates the credibility of every application and will go through all of the medical documents that you submit. They will determine whether the doctor’s advised treatment created any difference in your condition. If you fail to follow the prescribed treatment, the SSA may consider you responsible for your disabling condition. The SSA can argue that your condition deteriorated because you did not comply with the treatment. You should do the following:
- Attend all scheduled appointments
- Take proper medications as prescribed by your doctor
- Follow all medical advice
- File a timely appeal after a denial of benefits
You will generally have 60 days to file an appeal from the date you receive your notice from the SSA. If you miss the deadline to engage in the appeal process, you may have to initiate the application process from the very beginning.
How a Lawyer Can Ease the Process
The Social Security Administration will evaluate your application to determine whether you are making efforts to improve your health condition, and a lawyer can help you make sure you have all your bases covered. To avoid any unnecessary mistakes in your application or throughout the appeals process, you can seek assistance from an experienced disability lawyer.
Your lawyer can guide you at every step and handle the most complicated tasks. From completing the initial application to gathering medical records and representing you on appeal, your lawyer can improve your chances of securing the disability benefits you need.