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How Long Does it Take to Be Approved for Disability Benefits?

Applying for Social Security Disability can be a stressful and trying process. Many people wonder exactly how long this process takes and how soon they can expect to receive benefits. It's an understandable concern. If you're unable to work and have no way of supporting your family, the last thing you want to do is jump through hoop after hoop and navigate red tape while trying to obtain the Social Security Disability benefit payments that you are entitled to.

As for the question everyone seems to be asking, how long does it take to be approved for Social Security Disability? The answer to this question can be quite frustrating. There really is no single universal answer to this hot-button question. The fact of the matter is, there are many things that can impact how long it takes to be approved for Social Security Disability benefits. It can take a person one to two months for approval, while another may wait one to two years.

The first thing people ask when they find out that there is no one answer to how long it takes to be approved for Social Security Disability is, “Well, what's the ballpark average?” Again, there isn't really a good answer to this question. Some people may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits in as few as 30 days or less. For others, it can take more than two or even three years to complete the disability application process and be approved for Social Security Disability benefits.

Contributing Factors

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 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 benefits.

Another factor that will impact how quickly your Social Security Disability 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.

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.

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.

Hope on the Horizon

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 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.