Initial Application

When will I receive a decision?

7 to 9 Months

What happens during this stage?

  • Citizens representatives work with you to gather all the information necessary to complete the SSDI application process.
  • Once the application is complete, we file the paperwork with your local SSA office.
  • The SSA processes the claim and reviews it to determine whether the applicant meets the eligibility requirements:
  • SSA representatives review your work history to verify that you have met sufficient work credits, citizenship requirements, and/or asset limits.
  • The State Disability Determination Service (DDS) agency performs a medical determination of each applicant’s disability. If necessary, the DDS office may provide additional questionnaires or request a Consultative Exam performed by a doctor of SSA’s choosing and paid for by SSA.


When will I receive a decision?

6 Months

What happens during this stage?

  • If your initial application was denied, we will file an appeal called a Request for Reconsideration.
  • SSA reviews the original decision and determines whether it was correct under the law.
  • At this stage, it is crucial that you continue to inform us of any changes in your condition and any new medical treatment that you have received. If there is a change in your medical condition, we may ask you to obtain a new Residual Function Capacity (RFC) report from your doctor(s).



When will I receive a decision?

16 to 20 Months

What happens during this stage?

  • This is your opportunity to talk to a Judge about your injury or illness and why you cannot work.
  • While we wait for the hearing, you should continue to keep us informed of any new medical treatment or if your condition worsens.
  • At this step in the process, your case is transferred from the local Social Security office to a regional office where hearings are held.
  • You can expect to receive a letter from SSA confirming that the Request for Hearing was filed and that you will receive a notice 75 days before your hearing date. Remember that this does not mean your hearing will be in 75 days — it means SSA will let you know about your hearing 75 days before it is scheduled.
  • Once your hearing is scheduled, you will be put in contact with the advocate who will be representing you at the hearing.
  • You will have an advocate with you at the hearing.
  • Typically, judges want to know about you and the problems you are having. They want to know about your work history for the past 15 years, your educational background, and how your injury, illness, or condition limits your ability to keep a job.
  • When thinking about your limitations, remember that in order to be successful, you do not need to prove that you cannot work at all; rather, you must prove that you cannot keep a job because of your limitations.
  • Having to lay down or rest after exerting yourself, having a lack of energy so severe that you cannot get up in the morning to go to work, or being unable to follow instructions are all factors that will make it impossible to keep a full time job.

What are the results?

  • You will not receive a decision on the day of your hearing.
  • You can expect to receive a written decision from the Judge within six months of the hearing.
  • When you receive that decision, it will say Favorable (you won), Partial Favorable (you won, but did not get everything you asked for), or Unfavorable (you lost).

If your claim is denied at this stage, you have two options:
1) File an appeal to the Appeals Council to review the Judge’s decision.
2) File a new application and begin the process again. Our team will discuss each of these options with you to determine the best course of action.


Appeals Council Review

When will I receive a decision?

12 to 18 Months

What happens during this stage?

  • An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will review the decision to determine whether your claim was adjudicated properly.
  • The Judge will either reverse or confirm the decision of the ALJ, or will remand your case back to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) for further review.

Federal District Court Review

When will I receive a decision?

12 to 24 Months

What happens during this stage?

  • If benefits are denied in Stage 4, applicants can appeal by suing the Social Security Administration in the U.S. District Court.
  • This request for appeal must be filed within 60 days of receiving the decision from the Appeals Council, or you will have to start the application process over.

What are the results?

Once your advocate files the briefs for this stage, the judge will decide the outcome.
The outcome will be as follows:

  • The judge will uphold the decision of the Appeals Council.
  • The judge will hold your case for additional review by the SSA.
  • The judge will grant you SSDI benefits.

Receiving Your Benefits

When will I receive my benefits?

You may begin to receive benefits as soon as 60 days after SSA has determined that you are disabled.

Will I receive past-due benefits?

You are entitled to benefits after you have been disabled for 5 full months. This means that your benefits will begin on the sixth month after the date you were found disabled by SSA. You may be eligible for past-due benefits, retroactive benefits, or both.

Your eligibility for past-due or retroactive benefits depends on your application date, the date SSA determined that you became disabled, and whether you are insured for disability benefits. In some cases, you may not be entitled to either past-due benefits or retroactive benefits, but you may still be eligible to receive ongoing monthly benefits.


You are eligible to receive Medicare after you have received SSDI benefits for 24 months or 29 months after the awarded on set date.

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If you can’t work because of a chronic disease or long term injury, you may qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits!

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