How Long Does A Disability Appeal Take?
When you become disabled and can no longer work, the next logical step is to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Unfortunately, many people find the process highly complex and frustrating. First, there is the matter of whether you are eligible to apply for SSDI. In order to file for SSDI you must have paid in taxes on work related income and have a sufficient number of “credits.” The Social Security Administration (SSA)will check your eligibility when you file your claim. If you have sufficient credits you will still need to establish that you are disabled. In general the criteria are:
- Your physical or mental disability prevents you from engaging in employment on a full time basis and;
- You expect the condition to last for a minimum of 12 months or result in death
SSA denies most initial applications for benefits because it doesn’t feel the individual meets this definition. Many people give up after an initial denial due to the frustration of having to prove they’re truly disabled or simply feeling overwhelmed by the paperwork requirements. Others don’t realize they have the option to appeal the initial denial.
If your initial application is denied in some jurisdictions you must file a Request for Reconsideration while in others you file a Request for Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). However, you must act quickly since you have only 60 days from the receipt of the denial letter to initiate the appeal. At this stage it is important to consult with an experienced Social Security Disability attorney to make sure you follow the appropriate appeal process.
How Long Does It Take to Process Each Level of Appeal?
If you are in a jurisdiction requiring the filing of a Request for Reconsideration a decision on that request can take 2-5 months. If your Reconsideration is denied then you file the Request for Hearing.
If you have filed your Request for Hearing the amount of time it takes to get a Hearing date varies by jurisdiction. In the Mobile Alabama Hearing Office it is currently taking approximately 18 months from the date you filed your Request for Hearing until you have a hearing. It can then take several more months after the hearing to receive the ALJ’s written decision.
If your claim is denied by the ALJ there are further appeals to the Appeals Council and even Federal Court. However, for most claimants, their best chance for success is at the hearing level.
The Benefits of Hiring a Disability Lawyer to File Your Appeal
Although the law allows you to represent yourself in SSDI cases, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced disability attorney. The Social Security Administration must work with the person you appoint just as it would with you. An attorney can make sure that needed documentation regarding a claim is submitted and navigate any legal issues that may impact your chances of success.
You stand a much greater chance of approval when you work with an experienced disability lawyer to appeal your initial denial. We invite you to contact Walton Law, LLC to request a free review of your case. You can reach us at 251-455-5819. Walton Law, LLC has offices in Fairhope and Mobile for your convenience.