Why Does Getting SSDI Approval Take So Long?

Disabled man pointing at a computer with coworkers

When you are living with a disability of some kind, each day can be a battle, and it is important to take advantage of help when you can.

There are some benefits and state support offered by the government for those with disabilities. Chief among these is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is absolutely essential for many citizens throughout the US. 

If you are in a position to claim disability benefits, you should ensure you are familiar with the claims process, which is notorious for being long. This can be problematic for citizens who are currently unable to work because of their disabilities, but may have to wait several months for approval.

Being aware of the steps in the process can help you do everything in your power to both complete your claims process as quickly as possible and be prepared should it last longer than the ideal.

These are some of the steps of the SSDI process—and why they can take so long. 

Application Process

The application process is pretty simple: a claimant will fill out an application, either paper or digital, and send it to the Social Security Administration (SSA), then wait for them to confirm it.

However, that’s not the end of this step, because it is not uncommon for it to take up to a year for these applications to be confirmed! One of the reasons for this is due to the fact that only around 30% of applicants are actually approved at this early stage in the process.

Should your claim be approved during this initial step,  you should expect to wait only a few months. However, if you are denied at this stage, generally due to lack of medical evidence or not meeting the necessary requirements, there is an appeals process.

You should note, however, that this step in the process can be expedited if your condition is found on the Social Security Compassionate Allowance List (CAL). For disabilities that are considered severe and which clearly meet SSA requirements, such as brain diseases, certain forms of fast-growing cancer, terminal illnesses, and other terminal or severe illnesses and conditions, applying for the CAL can help claimants receive benefits much quicker.

Appeals Process

One of the main problems with this appeals process is that it can be very time-consuming. When it comes to appealing, you have 60 days from notification of rejection to submit the first appeal, known as a Request for Reconsideration. Frustratingly, waiting for a response to this appeal can often take from three to six months. It’s also worth noting that less than 25% of requests for reconsideration are accepted.

Some people find that they can complete the application process on their own, although it is recommended that you work with an experienced Social Security disability insurance lawyer from the start, as they can ensure you have sufficient documentation and who will give you the best chance at succeeding with your initial application. However, should you reach the appeals or hearing stage without a lawyer, it becomes a necessity; you will need a disability lawyer to help your case proceed.

Hearing Process

If your request for appeal is rejected, this could leave you six to ten months into the process without having received any help. You would then have another 60 days to appeal and take your case to a disability hearing. 

Your case would be brought before an Administrative Law Judge, which can again take up to a year. However, the good news is that two-thirds of hearings rule in favor of the applicant, so should you be granted a hearing, your odds of success have improved.

Backpay: The Good News

The good news is that if you are finally awarded your SSDI, you will be able to receive back payments to the point when you should have been accepted for  support. This can result in a large initial payout, depending on how long your case has been circling through the process.  Usually, your attorney fee will come out of this payment.

Now that you understand the SSDI claims process a little more, you can see why it is so important to start your application as soon as possible.