Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are awarded to eligible individuals who are no longer able to work due to a physical or mental disability. Because the people who apply for these benefits are unable to work, they typically need SSDI benefits in order to make ends meet and cover their living expenses. This is why so many applicants are eager to find out how long it will take to get approved for SSDI benefits.

How long will you have to wait to find out if you are approved? Is it possible to speed up the process? How can a Tampa Social Security disability attorney help? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and more.

How Long Will You Have to Wait For An Initial Decision?

After you submit an application for SSDI benefits, a disability examiner will review your record to determine whether or not you qualify.

The amount of time it will take to get this decision will vary depending on many factors, including the number of applications being processed. But the Social Security Administration (SSA) reports that it typically takes between three to five months to find out whether your initial application was approved or denied.

How Long Will It Take to Appeal Your SSDI Denial?

Sadly, the vast majority of initial applications for SSDI benefits are denied. In fact, it’s estimated that over 70% of initial applications for SSDI benefits are rejected every year.

If your initial claim has been rejected, you should not give up hope. You have the right to appeal the SSA’s decision and continue fighting for the benefits you deserve. But it’s important to understand that winning an appeal will not happen overnight, so you will need to be prepared to wait for quite some time to obtain your benefits.

The amount of time it will take to win your appeal will vary depending on how many steps of the appeals process you must go through. The four main steps of the appeals process are:

  • Reconsideration
  • Administrative law judge hearing
  • Appeals Council review
  • Federal court review

It will take about 100 days to make it through the first step of the appeals process, which is reconsideration. A very small percentage of cases—about 3%—are approved at this stage of the appeals process. If you are not part of this minority that is approved during reconsideration, your case will move to the next stage, which is the administrative law judge hearing.

At this point, you will need to wait for a hearing to be scheduled. This could take weeks, months, or even over a year, depending on where you live. Once the hearing is finally complete, you will need to wait several weeks to get the judge’s decision.

The amount of time it takes to get through the administrative law judge hearing part of the appeals process varies on a case-by-case basis. But on average, it takes about two years to get a hearing scheduled, attend the hearing, and get the judge’s final decision.

If the judge does not rule in your favor, your case will move to the next stage of the appeals process, which is the Appeals Council review. Going through the Appeals Council review stage can add between six months to two years to the process of appealing the SSA’s decision.

The appeals process will take even longer if you need to take your case to federal court. If your case ends up in federal court, you should be prepared to wait for at least another year to get a final decision.

How Can You Speed Up the SSDI Approval Process?

Most people who apply for SSDI benefits do not have weeks, months, or years to wait to get approved for benefits. If you want to ensure you are awarded benefits as quickly as possible, there are certain things you can do to speed up the approval process.

First, make sure you submit all of the required documentation at the time you submit your initial application. An attorney can work with you to help you gather the documentation you need to support your case. Experienced attorneys know what the SSA needs to see in order to approve your claim, so working with an attorney can increase your chances of getting approved.

Why is this important? The disability examiner cannot review your application and make a decision regarding your eligibility until they have all of the appropriate documentation. If they need to reach out to you to request additional documents, this will slow down the approval process.

You should also talk to an attorney to determine if you qualify for a compassionate allowance. The compassionate allowance program was established by the SSA to reduce the approval wait time for applicants with the most serious disabilities.

If you qualify, your application will be flagged so the SSA knows to review it and issue a decision to you right away. The average processing time for a compassionate allowance application is about 19 days, which is much faster than the average processing time for standard SSDI applications.

These are some of the many steps you can take to speed up the approval process and get your benefits as quickly as possible.

Seek Legal Representation From An Experienced SSDI Attorney Today

If you are unable to work as a result of a disability, it’s in your best interest to seek legal representation from the skilled SSDI attorneys at Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett as soon as possible. Our attorneys, who have over 125 years of combined legal experience, will guide you through the process of applying for SSDI benefits. We will work tirelessly every step of the way to ensure you get the disability benefits you need and deserve.

Call our law office now to schedule a free consultation regarding your disability case.