How Long Does It Takes To Be Approved for Disability in 2024?

Submitted by Shane on

There is generally a five-month waiting period before you get begin to recieve your disability payments. However, how long it takes to collect your medical records and any other evidence needed to make a determination will determine the exact timing. Your application will be forwarded to a state organization that conducts disability determinations.

How Long Does It Take To Get Disability Approval Letter?

When you have a disability that prohibits you from being able to work and earn a living, financial pressures and challenges can lead to anxiety and stress. And while Social Security disability benefits can assist in relieving these financial burdens, the application process and getting approved for these benefits takes time. As such, a question many people in this situation ask is how long does it take to get a disability approval letter? According to the SSA, the time it takes for an applicant to get a disability approval letter can be anywhere between an estimated three to five months. That being said, there are some common signs your disability claim will be approved that are helpful to check out to make sure you submit the strongest application possible and, thereby, give yourself the best chances of getting the benefits you need.  

Contributing Factors When It Comes To How Long It Takes To Get Disability

What factors impact how long it takes to get a Social Security Disability approval? The first thing that will impact how quickly you get a response to your application for Social Security Disability is whether your initial disability claim is approved or denied.

Initial claims usually take 1-2 months (30 to 90 days) to process. If you are one of the lucky people who gets approval on their initial claim, it will take you 90 days or less for Social Security Disability approval. If, however, your claim is not approved then at this point you will have to go through the disability appeal process, and that means it will take longer to get your Social Security Disability.

Another factor that will impact how quickly your SSDI application is approved or denied is what medical records are needed to process your claim, and how long it takes your doctors to send in the records that have been requested. If the doctors are taking too long to get your records in, you may be able to speed the process up by getting copies of the records yourself and sending them in with your application.

It takes 3 to 5 months to get your disability
Initial claims can usually take 30 to 90 days to process. 

If enough medical evidence isn't presented in your records, the Social Security Administration may require you meet with one of their doctors for further review. This may result in significant delays, depending on how soon you can get in for an appointment. Remember, when an appointment is made, you need to keep it. If you do not keep your appointment, you will either have to reschedule or you may even be denied disability benefits. 

Be sure to look out for the signs that you will be denied for disability.

The state in which you live also plays a part in how long it takes for your Social Security Disability application process to be completed. Some states have more of a backlog than others. For example, someone who lives in the State of Illinois will wait much longer than someone living in the State of Utah.

How to Get Approved for Disability the First Time 

There are a couple of things you can do that can help your chances of getting approved for disability the first time.

 The most important thing you can get approved for disability the first time is to make sure you have enough medical evidence to back up your claim for disability.

 Example of medical evidence include copies of your medical records, doctors’ reports, recent test results and proof of medication you are on. 

Medical evidence is the key to getting approved for disability.  If you have lots of medical evidence to prove to the SSA that you are no longer able to work full time because of your disability, you can improve your chances of getting approved for disability the first time. 

Other things you can do help your chances of getting disability the first time you apply is to make sure you are applying for the right disability program.

 For example, if you are 50 years old and have worked your whole life and now can’t because of degenerative disc disease, you would want to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is a disability program for workers who can’t work full time anymore because of disability, as opposed to applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is for people with disabilities despite a work history, but with very limited income. 

Another thing to do in order to get disability for the first time is to make sure that you submit a complete application for disability. So make sure to have the entire application completed with your information up to date and to not skip any questions on the application.

How Long Does It Take to Process the Medical Portion of a Disability Claim? 

Whether you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the length of time it takes to process a claim depends on several factors. 

The first is whether the medical evidence provided is sufficient to prove that the applicant is unable to work for at least 12 months and the second is how severe the medical condition is. 

The medical evidence must support the criteria for the injury or illness that can be found in the SSA’s Blue Book listing for the medical condition that qualifies for disability

If the medical evidence isn’t sufficient, the SSA is likely to ask the applicant for more proof of the ailment such as more tests and a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment performed by a doctor. 

 At the first stage of a social security disability claim, it could take more than 3 months to process a claim. If the claim is denied then the applicant may decide to lodge an appeal. 

Around 70% of social security disability claims are denied the first time. The reconsideration stage of an appeal could add a further 2 months to the processing time, while the waiting time for a hearing date which will be heard in front of a judge could take more than 2 years. 

However, anyone who has been diagnosed with serious illnesses may be eligible for a fast tracked disability benefits claim under the compassionate allowance initiative, which lowers the waiting time dramatically.

Signs You Will Be Approved for Disability

While it may be a challenge to get approved for disability benefits initially, there are some signs that you will be approved for disability. 

While nothing is for certain for sure, there are things that you can do before you send in your application, that can give you a better shot of getting approved for disability initially.

The first sign that you will be approved for disability is that you have enough work credits. In order to qualify for disability, you need enough work credits to qualify. 

How work credits are calculated is by your age and how long you worked. On average, it is usually around 40 work credits to meet the requirements.

it takes 3-5 months to get approved for disability

You can earn up to 4 work credits per year that you’ve worked. The Second sign that you will be approved for disability benefits is that you have a sufficient of medical evidence. 

Medical evidence to back up your claim that you can no longer work because of your disability is the key to winning a disability claim. The more evidence you have the better.

 Be sure to include as much medical evidence as you can in your claim. The third sign that you will be approved for disability, is that you have a condition that is in the SSA’s Blue Book.  The Blue book is the list of conditions that the SSA has put out that qualify for disability. The SSA will look at your application and see if your symptoms and ailments match one of its listings in the Blue Book, if it does then you could be approved for disability.

The last sign that you will be approved for disability is that you can’t go back and do the job that you could previously do before your disability.

If you can no longer work the job that you used to because of your disability and cannot do any future work, then you will get approved for disability.

Tips For Getting Approved Fast

There are a couple tips that can help decrease the time it takes to hear back from the SSA regarding your disability benefits. Here are some tips that may help with a fast application process:

  • Provide ALL medical evidence: Don't keep the disability examiner waiting for your medical documents and evidence. Instead, send all your medical documents when you submit your application.
  • Add all your doctors to your application: On your application, list the doctors you have seen, their office addresses and the dates you visited them. This can help the SSA in contacting your doctors and establishing your medical care.
  • Collect letter's from your doctors: A disability doctor letter about the condition you are experiencing and the symptoms that are impacting your ability to work. If you can, gather letters from multiple doctors. Submit these with your application.
  • Monitor your claim's progress: Stay on top of your application. The SSA may request additional paperwork or evidence. The longer it takes to get this to them, the longer your claim will take to process.
  • Consider working with an attorney: A lawyer or disability advocate may be familiar with filing disability claims. They will know what evidence is needed to help support your claim and can assist in gathering your supporting documents.

Is No News Good News When it Comes to Waiting on a Disability Approval Letter?

Most disability claims can take a long time to process, so if you haven’t heard back from the SSA regarding your disability approval letter it’s not a bad sign.

 There could be factors beyond your control to why you are waiting so long for your disability approval letter. 

Different SSA offices have different wait times when it comes to making their decision. It’s recommended to keep in touch with your disability lawyer because your disability lawyer gets paid first from the SSA before you do. 

Hope For Those Waiting To Get Disability

There is some good news. If you have a severe disabling condition, your wait may not be as long as you think. The Social Security Administration has been working hard to speed up application times for those who suffer from the most severe disabling conditions.

This “fast track” process allows some Social Security applicants to be awarded an approval in a matter of days, rather than a matter of months or even years.

It takes 3 to 5 months to get your disability
If you're expected to be out of work for at least 12 months you should apply for disability benefits.

It has been estimated that this year 100,000 to 125,000 of the people who suffer from the most severe disabilities will be approved for Social Security Disability within ten days of their application.

This “fast track” program is intended to help the Social Security applicants who need help the most, but the “trickle effect” this program causes may end up with reduced backlogs for other Social Security Disability applicants.

Remember, when applying for Social Security Disability, patience is a virtue. Your application will not be approved overnight. Just make sure you do everything you can to speed the process along. Provide any and all required documents quickly and try to expedite matters when you can.

Considering applying for Social Security disability benefits but not sure how much you’ll earn per month? Our Social Security benefits calculator can help you determine how much you’ll receive from the SSA before you file for disability

Get Help Today

If you are looking to apply for Social Security disability benefits, you may want to seek help from a Social Security attorney. A disability attorney will be able to tell you how long it takes to get disability.

A disability lawyer will be able to tell you how much disability you can get. If you work with a disability attorney, they can help make sure you have all of your medical information, evidence and other paperwork organized and ready for your disability application. 

The more evidence that you have that backs up your claim that you can no longer work because of your disability, the less time it takes for the SSA to make their decision. If you do not have a lot of medical evidence with your disability claim, it will take the SSA longer to process.

 If your claim is denied initially, a disability attorney can help the appeals process go by faster than if you did it on your own. 

 A disability lawyer near you will be able to let you know everything that you need, so that you can get your disability benefits as soon as possible.

Additional Resources

Blog comments

Ann Stuckless (not verified)

Unable to enter zip code,

Unable to enter zip code, which would be area code for Canada. Am I on a Canadian post?

Mon, 02/24/2020 - 18:26 Permalink

In reply to by Ann Stuckless (not verified)

Hi Ann,

Hi Ann,

Where are you attempting to fill out that information? Social Security disability benefits is something that is specific to the United States.

Tue, 02/25/2020 - 17:24 Permalink

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