10 Dec How Long Before My Social Security Disability Case is Heard?
A recent report from the Office of the Inspector General revealed something that Social Security disability claimants already know: it takes an increasing amount of time for cases to be heard and decided. According to the report, for fiscal year 2014, the Social Security Administration had a backlog of nearly one million cases. Whereas it took about 353 days for a claimant to have a hearing in 2012, that time increased to about 422 days in 2014.
Timeline of a Social Security Disability Claim
According to the report, a claimant who files for disability benefits can expect to wait over a year before having a hearing. In the interim, his or her claim proceeds through several steps:
- Initial Application and Decision
Within six months, a claimant’s application will be either approved or denied. It is estimated that about 35% of applications for benefits are approved at this stage, while the remainder are denied. If your claim is denied at this stage, you have 60 days in which to file your appeal.
If you file an appeal within 60 days of your initial denial, you will receive a second decision within six months. If you are denied at this stage, you have 60 days from the date of your second denial within which to request a hearing before an administrative law judge.
- Administrative Hearing
If you request a hearing before an administrative law judge, you can expect to wait about 12 months before your claim will be heard. Following the hearing, it can take several months before you receive the administrative law judge’s written opinion either approving or denying your claim. A little less than half of unrepresented disability claimants are approved at this level; having the assistance of counsel increases the likelihood that a person’s claim will be approved.
How a Social Security Disability Attorney Can Help
For some disability claimants, time is of the essence in obtaining benefits. Each month spent waiting for benefits to be approved is another month wondering how bills will be paid and how basic living expenses will be met. While a Social Security disability attorney cannot necessarily decrease the amount of time it takes for your claim to move through the various stages, having a lawyer assist you can increase the chances that your claim will be approved earlier in the process. An experienced Social Security disability attorney will know how to fill out your claim paperwork and support it with evidence such that the Social Security Administration is more likely to approve your claim.
Contact a South Carolina Disability Attorney
Choosing the right disability attorney is important. If your attorney is not experienced in handling disability claims and representing clients before the Social Security Administration, you may find that the delay in receiving a favorable decision from the SSA increases. At the Klok Law Firm, LLC, we are experienced in helping clients obtain disability benefits and can help your claim be approved sooner rather than later. Contact us today at (843) 216-8860 for a free consultation.