Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a long and difficult process that, from beginning to end, can take several months. Along the way you have to spend a lot of time gathering medical information and compiling all sorts of documentation. So, if you’ve gone through this whole process only to be denied benefits at the end of it, it can be a rather discouraging thing. You might in fact be tempted to give up.
Before you give up, though, don’t forget that there is a lifeline available to you: the appeals process. The SSA acknowledges that sometimes its employees can make a mistake, and has created the appeals process as a way to challenge a decision and present evidence in your defense. Going through the disability benefits appeal process online is also difficult, though, and can take a long time.
How long does it take to appeal an SSDI decision? That answer depends on how far through the process you have to go. That’s because there are different levels of appeal, and anyone of them could result in a favorable decision.
The first stage of the appeals process is the reconsideration appeal. At this stage, you basically ask for the SSA to simply take another look at your case. No new information is submitted; the only difference is that a different person takes a look at the evidence.
Because no new information is submitted, this stage of the appeals process is relatively quick — it usually takes no more than a week or so to get an answer. And, because no new information is presented at this point, the answer is almost always the same as the original — a “no.” This makes sense, though: if you were denied once, and the new examiner is using the same information and the same checklist of determination, why would the answer be any different?
Once a reconsideration appeal is denied, the next step is the disability hearing. At this stage, you actually take your case before a judge, who hears the case in person and makes a ruling based on the evidence. It is this stage where the long waits times typically begin. Due to a backlog of cases, it’s not unusual for people to have to wait anywhere from a couple of months to a year before their case is heard. In some parts of the country, it can take even longer!
Once your case has finally been heard, then you also need to wait for a decision. In most cases, it takes anywhere from 45 days to three months to get a decision.
If you are denied at the hearing level, the next step is the Appeals Council, who looks at various appeals and decides to only hear a relatively small number of them. However, getting a decision on whether or not they will even hear your case can take a long time. If they do hear your case, you’re again looking at a long time to get an answer — anywhere from months to year! If they do not, you have 60 days to file a motion to have your case heard in Federal Court.
The final stage of the disability benefits appeal process can be difficult and confusing, and is solely up to the court to decide the timetable. Because of this, there really is no way to tell how long this could take. For these reasons, very few people even make it this far on appeal.
As you can see, the process of disability benefits appeal online can be anywhere from a short week or two to many, many years. It depends on how far you are willing to take your case, and when you are finally given the answer you want.
If you would like to know more, please contact us today.