The old adage, “Patience is a virtue,” is nothing but true when working with the Social Security Administration (SSA). There’s an expectation that processing any disability information will take time, but how much time will it really take? It’s a slow process, but the wait may reap benefits that help in the long run — patience is the key.
Unfortunately, the average timeline is not promising for any Muncie disability claim; however, knowing a basic overview of the timeline can help you be aware of unexpected delays. From the initial application, reconsideration, and hearing, it’s good to know the potential wait time and how to proceed in the process.
Applying for Your Muncie Disability Claim
The SSA has three ways to apply for disability:
- Completing an online application
- Calling the toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213
- Calling or visiting the local Social Security office in Muncie
The way in which you apply does not matter; however, having the following vital information can help expedite the application process:
- Social Security number and proof of age
- Names of doctors with notes from them and locations and time of each appointment
- Overview of your job description(s) and where you worked over the past 10 years
- The last W-2 form or federal tax return
Having information about your family can help too. This includes information such as their Social Security numbers along with proof of age for any member who might qualify for Social Security benefits and, if your spouse is also applying for benefits, proof of marriage.
Hearing back about your Muncie disability application typically takes three to five months; thus, having this information when first applying saves valuable time.
You’ve Received Your First Denial
After the three to five months, you have likely now heard back with an acceptance or rejection of your application. Most cases will be a rejection; only 33 percent of initial applications are approved.
Once you have the initial response and it’s not an approval for disability, you can go through the appeals process, first with a request for reconsideration. Five days after the SSA has mailed the decision, the clock begins with only 60 days for a formal request for reconsideration to be submitted.
At this point in the timeline, consulting an experienced Muncie disability attorney would be an acceptable option. With not a lot of time to submit for reconsideration, having someone with the knowledge and background of the way the SSA works can be a vital asset. Most likely, this is also the shortest waiting period of the entire process — around two to four months. Even though the wait time is short, the likelihood of getting approved is still slim. Only 12 percent of requests for reconsideration get approved.
You’ve Been Denied After Reconsideration — Now What?
By looking at the numbers, it’s a strong possibility that the reconsideration request would also be denied. Now, the long waiting begins as the process continues toward a hearing.
Muncie disability claims are handled through the SSA’s Indianapolis office, and it’s important to keep in mind the average wait time for a first hearing — 20 months, as of February 2018. In these 20 months, the waiting is strenuous. Instead of resubmitting your paperwork again, a hearing is being requested in front of the administrative law judge (ALJ). The SSA does give a few suggestions that may help the hearing process move more quickly:
- Appoint a representative as soon as possible
- Do not reschedule a hearing
- Update and submit new medical evidence to your file before the date of the hearing
For many people, the hearing is their best chance at approval. Because a judge can hear your story instead of just reading your file, they may be able to better understand why you’re qualified for disability benefits. 45 percent of applicants who receive a hearing get approved.
However, if denied again, you can file an appeal with the Social Security appeals council (AC) within 60 days of receiving the decision from the hearing. The SSA provides additional recommendations for shortening the request for a federal appeal:
- Request a review for an appeal within 60 days of receiving the hearing decision
- Report additional evidence or comments about your file
- Alongside your attorney, request transcripts or recordings of the hearing if that’s relevant to your appeal
Once your appeal has been reviewed by the AC, your case will have one of three outcomes:
- The AC will approve you for disability benefits
- The AC will decide your case needs another hearing and return the case to the same ALJ you had before
- The AC will deny your appeal
The AC will notify you of the decision so further action on your part can be taken if necessary. How long it takes to hear a result depends on the volume and claim details. If the AC denies your appeal, you then have the option to file a lawsuit against Social Security in federal court.
It is worth noting, however, that after your hearing, your chances for approval go down drastically with each subsequent appeal you file. That’s one reason why it’s important to have an experienced disability lawyer on your side at your hearing.
Consult a Muncie Social Security Disability Claim Attorney
Even though the waiting doesn’t seem to end, it will. What you do with the wait is what’s important. Along with consulting passionate and experienced disability claim attorneys from Hensley Legal Group, maintaining your health is recommended. Keeping your body and mind healthy during this stressful time is difficult, but that’s why you have attorneys like us. Involve local and experienced attorneys in your case early; call, visit, or contact us online today for a free conversation about your claim.