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Factors That Affect Wait Times To Get Approved For SSD

Living with a disability is not always easy, but the process of applying for Social Security Disability is not particularly easy either. In fact, it can be a stressful and intimidating task, and sadly applying for SSD approval is a major concern in the lives of so many people. If you are unable to work, with no means of supporting yourself and your family, the last thing you want is to get tangled up in a complicated, time-consuming process to obtain the Social Security Disability benefits that you are entitled to. 

There is no reliable estimate of how long it will take to get approved for Social Security Disability, and this can make things even more frustrating. However, certain considerations are taken into account which contributes to how long it takes.

This article is a guide to the major factors that affect wait times to get approved for SSD.


When it comes to getting approved for SSD, case backlogs are to blame for most of the delays. From the starting point where your application is reviewed by a disability examiner at the time a hearing date is announced, the entire process is frustratingly long and largely depends on where you live. The SSD attorneys in San Jose explain that statistics from the government have proven that the time to get a hearing date for your Social Security Disability application varies broadly across the country. States with the shortest wait time include Houston, Boston, and Dallas, while others have significantly bigger backlogs, such as New York and California. Hiring a specialized SSD attorney can help to reduce your waiting time.

Medical Records and Quality Review

Another factor that affects how quickly your Social Security Disability application is approved is how long it takes your doctor to provide the relevant authorities with the necessary medical records that are required to process your claim. If this process is dragging on, you will have to step in and help speed up the procedure by getting copies of the records yourself and submitting them with your application.

If the required medical evidence is not presented in your records, your case might be pulled for a quality review by the Social Security Administration, which involves a meeting with one of their doctors. The delays that this can cause to your application can be significant, and if it takes too long, you may even be denied disability benefits.

Individual Circumstances

The amount of time it takes to get approved for Social Security Disability can also be impacted by the level of your disability and the diagnosis of your particular case. This will depend on the medical evidence that you provide to the authorities. Depending on those reports, your case may be fast-tracked, and you will be able to get that decision quickly through the Social Security’s Quick Disability Determination, Compassionate Allowance, or Terminal Illness programs. Benefits can also be offered to applicants through the Presumptive Disability program even before their claims have been approved.

Initial Approval or Denial

If your initial disability claim is approved, then clearly this is a good sign, but still, the time it takes for initial SSD claims to be processed can be anything from 30 to 90 days. However, if your claim is denied initially, you may want to prepare yourself mentally and physically for the time ahead. Surveys have found that there is not a significant difference in the amount of time it takes to get an initial approval or an initial denial after filing a disability application, but the decision for denial of benefits must be presented with detailed, written documents (to stand up to further appeals), so the people who are denied of their initial claims may have to wait longer just to hear that decision. Furthermore, you will have to move on in the disability appeal process and this means a longer delay in getting your Social Security Disability benefits.

Further Appeals

After the initial claim for SSD benefits is denied, applicants have the option to seek a further review by the Social Security Appeals Council (which only meets about once a year on average), and then appeal in federal court. In the end, the final decision can be changed to “approved”, but keep in mind that several years can be added to the process if you decide to take both of these steps.

Now that you have the proper knowledge about the factors that impact the approval wait times for SSD, you will understand that the application is not going to be approved overnight. However, the wait is often not as long as you think it will be. For your part, you can “fast track” the process by providing the necessary documents on time and expediting matters yourself.


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