For applicants stuck waiting for their Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) to be approved, one of the best Christmas gifts would be their first check from the Social Security Administration (SSA). This would mean they can afford the basic necessities despite their inability or decreased ability to work and earn a livable wage.
However, depending on the time they first applied and whether or not their case can be approved right away, applicants may end up waiting over a year to get their disability benefits. Although the process may be long, appealing denials and being patient is worth it if you get approved in the end.
Lifespan of a Social Security Disability Application
Knowing what to expect from your disability application can help you plan for the long road ahead. Not every case always gets approved right away; in fact, the approval rate for initial applications is less than 35 percent.
The type of illness or injury as well as the completeness of your application matter during this process; complete claims that clearly support an SSA-recognized impairment have a better chance of being approved, faster. A qualified Social Security disability lawyer can help you prepare your application to give you the best shot at being approved.
When you file your Indiana SSDI application, the first waiting period you’ll have to endure is for initial processing. In 2018, this waiting period averaged nearly four months before applicants received either their notice of award or their notice of denial.
So, if you filed your application for disability benefits around August, you can expect to receive a letter (but not a check) from the SSA by Christmas.
Some people assume that the first denial their application receives means they will never be approved for Social Security disability benefits. However, applicants can appeal this decision twice, increasing their likelihood of receiving benefits.
The appeals process lengthens the amount of waiting time, and adds deadlines, appointments, and stress to the person filing the claim. Once you’ve received your first denial, you have 60 days to appeal your application. Then, you will probably wait another three months to hear back from the SSA about your request for reconsideration.
Since such a small percentage of reconsiderations are approved for benefits, your application will likely move into the third phase of disability consideration.
If you first applied around March or April and appealed your denial quickly, you may hear back from the SSA by Christmas.
If you’ve been denied on reconsideration of your application, you have another 60 days to appeal yet again — this time, to request a hearing in front of a judge who will listen to the details of your case and pronounce a decision.
The good news is, at this stage, up to 45 percent of applicants are approved for benefits. The bad news is this comes with a lengthy wait. As applications have increased and staff numbers dwindled, the SSA’s schedule has been overrun with hearings.
For Indiana residents, wait times for getting a hearing can be as long as:
- Indianapolis – 19 months
- Fort Wayne – 14.5 months
- Evansville – 18 months
- Valparaiso – 18 months
It’s important to prepare well and put your best effort into presenting a strong case for your disability hearing. This is your greatest opportunity to explain to a judge, in person, why you can’t work. If you’re denied at this stage, you can appeal again, but the case will then go before an Appeals Council and/or a Federal Court judge, which mostly just involve written legal arguments. If you have to start a new application, and the timeline begins all over.
If you recently filed a request for hearing, you may not receive a date until next year’s holiday season begins, and sometimes, not even by that time.
Receiving Benefits after Approval
Even after you’ve been approved for disability, you may have to wait months for your monthly benefits to kick in. Each case is different, and when you start receiving benefits will depend on a variety of factors. You’ll likely have some information on your notice of award that outlines when you’ll start receiving monthly benefits. Another reason to hire a disability attorney early in the process is that they can walk you through your notice of award and help you determine when you may receive payment.
Guidance from an Indiana Disability Attorney
By the end of your application’s lifespan, you’ve waited at least two years since filing an initial claim. Keeping records straight and staying patient may be easier with a professional keeping an eye on your case during the long periods of waiting.
Hensley Legal Group’s experienced disability attorneys can help you through this process by helping you put together a thorough application and meet any approaching deadlines. They will know what medical information is required or relevant and take care of all the paperwork, as well as represent you in a hearing if necessary. Call us or contact us online today to begin a conversation about your case. The call is free and there’s no obligation.