First of all, if your claim is initially denied, don’t get discouraged. Over 50% of initial applications for benefits are denied. If you receive a denial to your initial application, you must request a reconsideration within 60 days. If your claim is once again denied, you have 60 days in which to request a hearing. After the hearing it can take several months to receive a decision.

After a denial at the hearing level, you can still appeal to the Appeals Council, and beyond that, you can file a lawsuit in United States District Court.

Please keep in mind that every case is unique. The information provided is intended as general in nature and not as legal

There is no application waiting period. Because it can take several months for an application to be processed by the SSA, you should apply for benefits as soon as you become disabled. HOWEVER, once approved, your “start date” to receive benefits will not be until the sixth full month from the date your disability began.

An initial determination will take anywhere from three to five months. Several factors can influence the amount of time it takes to receive notification, including:

    • the nature of the disability;
    • how quickly medical evidence is obtained from medical providers;
    • whether it is necessary to send you for a medical examination in order to obtain evidence to support your claim; and
    • If your claim is randomly selected for quality assurance review of the decision.
  • How Does Social Security Define Disability?

Social Security does not define disability the same way that other programs do. Disability under Social Security is based on your inability to work. You are considered disabled if you cannot do the work that you did before, and you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition. Your disability must last or be expected to last for at least one year or to result in death. Social Security does not provide short-term or partial disability benefits.

The SSA will calculate the monthly benefit amount based on wages earned before the disability occurred. You can use one of the calculators at the SSA website to get an estimate of monthly benefit amounts.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are paid to those who have worked long enough and have paid taxes into Social Security and meet other qualifying criteria. The amount of monthly SSDI benefits is determined by how much the person earned before they became disabled.

Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) benefits are paid to those who have either not worked long enough to qualify for SSDI benefits, or who may have never had an opportunity to work. To receive SSI benefits, an individual must meet certain criteria, as well as prove that they have limited financial resources. The SSI benefit amount may change as their financial situation changes.