A denied Social Security Disability claim with the word "Denied" stamped on it in red.

When you’re struggling to file for Social Security Disability (SSD), it usually means you have nowhere else to turn. Having an illness or injury that prevents you from working can affect every aspect of your life. Social Security Disability is a lifeline for many disabled individuals who can’t earn a living wage.

Unfortunately, applying for disability benefits can be difficult. The Social Security Administration (SSA) denies most initial disability claims (about 60%-70%). If you’re denied benefits, this can be extremely discouraging. However, the SSA does allow disability applicants to file appeals.

If you’ve recently been denied benefits, you’re probably wondering how long it takes to appeal a Social Security Disability claim. While it’s impossible to determine the exact timeframe, you can form an estimate based on the steps in the appeals process.

The Disability Appeals Process

The majority of disability claimants receive an initial decision on their application within 3–6 months. In the event that your application is denied, there is a 60-day window to begin the appeals process. This process consists of 4 stages.

If you’re asking, “How long do Social Security Disability appeals take?” know that the answer varies based on how many levels of appeal you go through.

  • The first stage of the process is known as reconsideration. During this stage, the SSA reviews the SSD application again to identify any potential errors. This involves a thorough review of the evidence that was supplied before the initial decision, and any new evidence provided for the reconsideration.

Unfortunately, the majority of claim reconsiderations result in a second denial. This means the claimant must proceed to the next stage in the appeals process.

  • The second stage of the appeals process is a disability hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ). The claimant may file a request for a disability hearing within 60 days of the reconsideration decision.

During the hearing, the claimant will present their case to the ALJ, who has the power to either approve or reject their claim. Working with a qualified disability lawyer can significantly increase a claimant’s chances of winning the hearing.

  • The third stage of the appeals process involves addressing the Social Security Appeals Council. This council has the option to review the ALJ’s decision of denial, and send it back for a second hearing. A claimant must submit a request for review of the ALJ’s decision within 60 days from the date of denial.
  • The fourth and final stage in the appeals process involves filing a civil suit with the federal district court. At this stage, the claimant can request a review of the SSA’s decision.

The Social Security Disability Appeals Time Frame

The length of time it takes to receive a disability determination after an appeal can vary widely. Factors like which state is handling the ALJ hearing or special details regarding the case can impact time estimates. Below are average periods it can take to receive a determination after each stage of the appeals process.

  • Reconsideration: 2–6 months
  • Disability Hearing: 8-12 months or longer
  • Appeals Council Review: Anywhere from 3-24 months (typically at least a year)
  • Federal Court Review: Usually at least 12 months

It’s not difficult to see that disability appeals can take upwards of a year in many cases. This is why it’s crucial to ensure your application is filed correctly and on time. Including detailed medical records to support your claim will also benefit your case.

If you’ve been denied disability and need an experienced attorney to represent you, contact the Patrick J. Kelly Law Office today.

Contact Our Law Firm

Knowing exactly how long an appeal takes for Social Security Disability benefits is nearly impossible. However, working with a Social Security Disability lawyer can increase your chances of claim approval.

At the Patrick J. Kelly Law Office, we’ll work closely with you to build your case. We will review your initial application and identify any potential problems before resubmitting. We will also gather any additional evidence or documentation that could further support your claim.

Contact the Patrick J. Kelly Law Office to schedule a free consultation. We’re here to assist whether you’re applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). With our extensive knowledge of Social Security Disability law, you can rely on us to help you file an application for disability benefits.

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