Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits can be a long process, taking up to two or even three years from the time you submit your initial application until the time you are given an opportunity to present your case to a judge. The wait can be very frustrating and financially draining for those who are unable to work at all, and many people have to rely on help from family members or state assistant programs to make ends meet.

The Application Process Has (Usually) Three Stages

In the two to three years it takes to receive a decision, there are multiple stages:

  • the Initial Application and evaluation
  • a Reconsideration of your application if it is rejected
  • and a Hearing in front of a judge if the application is denied again at Reconsideration.

The Wait Might Continue After The Hearing, As Well

Even after the judge hears your case, it can take months after the hearing to receive a decision. He or she may be reviewing hundreds or even thousands of pages of medical records for just one claimant. If the judge denies your claim, it can then take 18 months or more for the Appeals Council, the entity that reviews judges’ decisions, to review the case.

Why Such A Long Wait?

Why can’t your claim be heard faster? The problem is a significant backlog in the Social Security system due to the extremely high numbers of people applying for Social Security benefits.

In 2018 alone, there were over 2 million people who applied for Social Security Disability Benefits.1 The rising number of people who are applying for disability benefits is due, in part, to the aging population of baby boomers, and the entry of more women to the workforce over the past several decades.2 The fact is, our population is growing older and more and more people meet the eligibility requirements to receive benefits. Even with greater numbers of people applying for disability, there are just over 1600 administrative law judges to hear all of these cases (some even work in multiple offices) which is not enough to keep up with the number of applications and hearings.3

Additionally, very few applicants are approved at the initial level, which can be the difference between a quick approval and years of waiting. This is often due to a lack of medical evidence or missing paperwork, and can result in a denial without anyone having reviewed the actual merits of your claim.4 All of these factors have resulted in the Social Security Administration having a backlog of nearly one million cases.5


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The Government Moves At Its Own Speed

Ultimately, the timeline in which you receive a decision is in the hands of the Social Security Administration – nothing can be done to speed up the process. It is our job, and our mission, to ensure that completed paperwork, strong medical records, and zealous representation gives you the best possible chance to win your claim.

About Citizens Disability, LLC:

Since 2010, Citizens Disability has been America’s premier Social Security Disability institution. Our mission is to give a voice to the millions of Americans who are disabled and unable to work, helping them receive the Social Security Disability benefits to which they may be entitled.

[1] http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/STATS/dibStat.html[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/25/business/economy/disability-insurance-causes-pain.html[3] http://www.ssa.gov/appeals/DataSets/03_ALJ_Disposition_Data.html[4] http://www.fool.com/retirement/general/2014/09/07/why-social-security-disability-can-take-so-long-to.aspx[5] http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2014/10/18/the-biggest-backlog-in-the-federal-government/