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How Long Does It Take to Get Social Security Disability?

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If you are considering filing for Social Security Disability, you are likely wondering how long does it take to get Social Security Disability? The answer depends on where you are in the approval process. If you are just getting started, there are several steps you need to take before submitting your claim. If you were initially denied, you have the option to appeal the denial of Social Security Disability. You may need the experience and expertise of a Social Security Disability attorney at Caddell Reynolds to help you receive the benefits you deserve.


There are several stages involved when applying for Social Security Disability depending on the initial approval or denial of your application. The wait times vary for each stage, meaning that there truly is no one-size-fits-all answer for how long it takes to get Social Security Disability.

  1. Initial Application. The process begins by submitting your Social Security Disability claim. This application is filed with your state agency. It can take three to four months from the application date to hear anything from DDSSA. You can help streamline this process and increase your potential for approval by avoiding making some major mistakes. Involving a Social Security Disability attorney from the beginning to ensure you do have the best case possible for initial approval.
  2. Reconsideration. If you are approved after your initial application, then you will skip this step of the process. If your claim was denied, you can submit your application for reconsideration, which can take an additional three to four months. You will have to file an appeal of the denial, which is when you will want to contact a Social Security Disability attorney.
  3. Hearing Level. If your application is denied after reconsideration, it will be appealed at the hearing level. The time frame for this stage in the process varies from seven months to 22 months. An administrative law judge (AJL) will issue an opinion regarding your case.
  4. Appeals Council. If the AJL denies your claim, the next step in the process is to appeal the decision to an appeals council. It can take upwards of a year to receive a ruling from the appeals council. The length of time depends on how many decision makers are available, existing caseload, the amount of evidence in your case, and the complexity of your case.
  5. Federal Appeal. If the appeals council denies your request, you can appeal their decision to the federal district court. At this point, you should certainly be working with a Social Security Disability attorney to help you appeal your case. It can take upwards of eight months to receive a decision from the federal court.

It should be noted that the wait times discussed above are an approximation. They may vary based on your case and how many other cases are being filed at the same time.


At any point in this process, you may receive approval. If your application is approved, your first Social Security Disability check will be paid for the sixth full months after the date that your disability began. This means that your first check is paid based on when the disability began, not when your application was approved. The amount that you receive will vary based on your average earnings covered by Social Security.

If you have been denied or have yet to receive your Social Security Disability benefits, contact a Social Security Disability attorney at Caddell Reynolds at (800) 889-6944 for a free legal consultation.