Social Security Disability|Legal

How Long Does It Take To Get Social Security Disability?

When you have to make the shift from working for a living to applying for Social Security Disability Insurance, you probably have a lot of questions and just as many concerns. One of the most common is how long does it take to get Social Security Disability benefits so that you can ensure that your life will go on as close to normal as it has in the past. This is especially important to those who were not anticipating using Social Security Disability income following a long decline, but who have been injured on the job or are suddenly facing a serious illness. 

How Long Does It Take To Get Social Security Disability

How Long Does It Take To Get Disability Benefits?

For SSDI benefits, it’s fairly common to have a wait of several months to a year for your initial application to be processed, depending on your location and how busy the local office is. However, that doesn’t mean that you’ll get benefits at the same time. It’s fairly common for an initial application to be denied, often due to lack of medical evidence. In many cases, as your disability progresses, you may lose insurance coverage or stop going to the doctor as frequently because it’s too expensive or takes too much time when you’re dealing with a range of other concerns at the same time. 

Disability Claims’ Timeline

So what happens when you file for disability benefits? To start, you’ll need to fill out an application. Because it can be a long, complex form, we recommend that you talk to a disability attorney to help keep things moving smoothly throughout the entire process. This ensures that the paperwork is filled out properly, that the appropriate medical terminology and conditions are mentioned to smooth out the process, and that the application goes in quickly. Depending on the caseload at your local Social Security office, you may have a wait for your appeals hearing of six months to two years from your initial application.

When Your Benefits Start

Once you’ve either been approved on your initial application or have won your Social Security Disability hearing, your benefits will typically start after a five-month waiting period from your initial application. Because of some of the potential delays in the process, this means that there’s a good chance benefits will start within a month or two of your being approved. To speed up the process, you’ll want to choose to have your SSDI benefits direct deposited into your checking or savings account so that they’re available as soon as possible. In some situations, the benefits will deposit the night before they are due, depending on your bank and Social Security’s deposit schedule. It can be beneficial to set up any automatic payments for your expenses shortly after the last possible date of deposit in the month, typically the 28th.

Compassionate Allowances

One exception to this is what’s called a compassionate allowance, which happens when you have a terminal illness or a serious condition that is automatically recognized by the Social Security Administration as disabling. In this situation, the process is accelerated, so that the individual filing for benefits can receive them in a timely fashion. Compassionate allowances are provided for many cancers, some brain disorders and numerous rare disorders in children. Though the SSA has an existing list of diseases it approves quickly under this program, there is also an option to submit a disease for consideration to add to the list. For compassionate allowances, there is no waiting period prior to receiving benefits.

How Much You Will Receive

How much you receive will depend on how much you made and have paid into Social Security over the years. You can find this information by going to the Social Security website and requesting your latest statement through their automated online system, which will provide you details on how much you would receive if you became disabled. Though there are some factors that can reduce your SSDI benefit, which we’ll discuss below, this would at least give you a ballpark figure of where you stand.

But what if you haven’t worked long enough to have enough work credits for SSDI? In this situation, another program called Supplemental Security Income will provide some assistance. Because it is based on income, there are many factors that contribute to calculating how much you would receive from that program. You can determine if you’re eligible for SSI at the benefits website here.

Contributing Factors When It Comes To How Long It Takes To Get Disability

Wait times are very frustrating when you’re watching your bank account spin down, especially when you may have significantly higher medical bills to pay due to your disability. This is among the reasons why it’s so important to work with a disability lawyer as early as possible. Issues that can delay your disability benefits can include making mistakes on the forms, not including all of your medical conditions, not including how those conditions limit your daily life, failing to appeal a negative decision, and many more. Similarly, the number of cases that the office is handling can impact how quickly your application and appeal are processed. Working with a disability attorney ensures that these issues are not missed and that you are properly represented at every step along the way.

Back Pay

If your disability case has gone on for a while, or you became disabled and can prove it prior to applying for SSDI, you may be eligible for back cash benefits, also referred to as back pay. This payment can go back several years if needs be, provided that the disability can be proven. Back pay is often delayed behind the start of your benefits, but would be received in many cases as one lump sum. Many individuals who have had a long journey to receive their SSDI benefits have put the lump sum towards home improvements, a vehicle or medical equipment that will improve their quality of life. 

Other Payments May Affect Your Disability Benefits

There are some situations in which other payments that you receive can impact your SSDI benefits. These payments typically include worker’s compensation, pensions for work that was not covered by Social Security or public disability benefits that have otherwise come into play. These types of payments can reduce how much you’ll receive in Social Security Disability Insurance payments. Similarly, if you have private disability insurance, the amount you would be paid may include SSDI benefits, so if you have private disability insurance coverage of $60,000 per year, or $5,000 per month, and your SSDI benefit is $1,500 a month, the private disability insurance would pay you $3,500 a month.

Signs You Will Be Approved for Disability

Though nobody can guarantee that your disability case will be approved, there are several situations in which it’s more likely. If you’re over 50 or 55, you’re considered to be of “advanced age”, which shifts the grid of work you’re expected to be able to do, making approval easier. If you’re able to strongly document the progression of your disability through medical records, you’re also more likely to be approved for disability, because you’ve provided solid evidence to back up your claim. If you earn less than the Substantial Gainful Activity amount, you’re more likely to have your claim approved. If you’ve been out of work for over 12 months or work due to health concerns, you’re likely to be approved.

Tips For Getting Approved Fast

If you’re currently going through health care issues that you think may end in an SSDI claim to keep your income steady, it’s important to document everything. Start making a list of concerns you have outside commonly asked questions you may find answers to on the internet. Look at whether you have other disability pay options that you can take advantage of to maintain your income during the waiting period and time while awaiting approval. It’s also important to apply as soon as possible while obtaining evidence of when your disability started, so that you can maximize your back pay during the process.

Hope For Those Waiting To Get Disability

Though the waiting period you encounter when waiting for your SSDI benefits to be paid can seem endless from your initial application process, it’s important to approach the process correctly. As we mentioned above, it’s pretty common to have your initial disability claim denied, at which point you’ll need to appeal for a disability hearing. Rather than worrying about the process on top of your medical conditions, most people working through the long wait will hire a disability lawyer to work with you through the appeals process and their appearance before an appeals council. A disability attorney should offer you a free consultation so that you understand where you stand and how long it might take to resolve your case and help improve your odds of a positive decision at your hearing.