It’s a standard question: How long will it take for me to be approved for Social Security Disability Benefits? (SSDB)
As with so many other things, the answer is: it varies. In truth, it can take from one month to up to two years or more!
Let’s look at this a little closer. First of all, not every one’s disability case is the same. Some individuals will present medical impairments on their disability applications that will immediately stand out as obvious approvals (though this happens in only a small percentage of cases). Examples of clear cut cases include ALS, advanced cancer, severe kidney disease, blindness, AIDs, and double amputations.
Social Security has a list of “225 compassionate allowance” diagnoses. The Compassionate Allowances program expedites disability decisions for Americans with the most serious disabilities to ensure that they receive their benefit decisions within days instead of months or years.
But what about the most common disorders—back injuries, depression, heart attack, etc? How long does the average case take?
Nationally, it takes an average of 120 days for a Social Security disability applicant to receive an answer from the Social Security Administration on his or her initial application. 35% are awarded benefits at this level.
In 2013, here was how many days it took to process an appeal from an initial denial (remember, at that point you’ve already waited 4 months) and have a hearing in front of a Judge on an appeal (in NY, this is the second step in the process) in some local regions:
Brooklyn: 478 days
Manhattan: 320 days
Bronx: 359 days
Queens: 363 days
Long Island (Jericho) : 292 days
just to get a hearing!!!!
Source: NOSSCR Social Security Vol. 5, No. 5, May 2013
The waiting time for the Jericho (Long Island) Hearing Office, by the way, in 2013 was 8th fastest among 165 hearing offices in the country!
So to recap- if you file an application for benefits and you live in Long Island, it takes about 4 months to get a decision, and if you are denied, another 10 months to get a hearing. (And then a couple of months to get the actual decision from the Judge.)
And that’s comparatvely quick. In St. Louis, Mo., the worst hearing office in the country in terms of time to wait for a hearing, the wait to get a hearing in 2013 averaged 547 days!!!
And let’s not forget that since almost all SSDB applicants are not working, that’s an awfully long time to wait for income.