If you’ve tried applying for disability benefits with the Social Security Administration (SSA), you know how slow the process is.
First, you wait between four and five months to hear back from the SSA about your initial application. Since up to 70 percent of these are denied, it’s likely you will have to appeal your application, which can take another two to four months. The second time around, the odds are even lower of being approved, which means many people who apply for disability must eventually decide whether or not to request a hearing.
By now, you’ve waited almost 9 months only to be denied twice, and the hearing process can last twice that long. In Evansville, hearings are usually held a year and a half after being requested.
You may be tempted to think that reapplying will be simpler and increase your chance of being approved. However, waiting through the hearing process may finally get you the benefits you deserve.
Disability Approval Statistics
It’s clear from SSA statistics that the longer you wait and the more persistent you are with your disability claim, the more likely you are to be approved. In 2015, only 33 percent of initial applications for disability were approved. From there, only 12 percent of appeals (or reconsiderations) get approved.
These downward trends change dramatically in the hearing process. Up to 45 percent of those who complete a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ) get approved.
In Evansville, you are even more likely to be approved for disability benefits when you pursue a hearing: In local disability offices, 57 percent of judges’ decisions were approvals.
Time Is On Your Side
In the disability application process, the longer your file accumulates information, the better your chance of success will be. This is part of what drives approval ratings up for those who persevere to their hearing; they have a stronger file with ample evidence of their disability.
In addition, the longer wait period confirms that you’re unable to work for at least a year because your application has taken that long to reach a hearing date. In the meantime, you’ve been following a doctor’s treatment plan and keeping regular appointments. All this makes a judge’s decision that much easier to make.
The Danger of Deadlines
Some people know their chances are better of being approved for disability benefits if they wait for a hearing with an ALJ, but sometimes they’re forced to start over. That’s what happens when you miss a deadline.
After your initial application for disability is denied, you only have 60 days to file your appeal. The same 60-day window applies when you are denied the second time, before requesting a hearing. Miss either one of these deadlines and you’ll have to start your application over.
Applying for Social Security disability benefits is drawn-out enough as it is; don’t make it any harder on yourself by missing these crucial deadlines.
Use Your Time Wisely
There’s really no way to shortcut the SSA’s painfully slow application process for disability benefits. Your best chance of success is following procedures, gathering as much information as possible, and waiting for a hearing in front of an ALJ. Be patient, stay healthy, and follow your doctor’s instructions.
In this difficult time, you want to know you’ve done all you can to get the benefits you deserve. Many applicants carry the burden of this process by themselves, but it doesn’t have to be that way. An experienced, compassionate Evansville disability lawyer can help you file your application, meet deadlines, and compile the strongest case possible for your situation. Contact Hensley Legal Group today for a free consultation.
Let us take care of your claim so you can take care of yourself.