What Happens When You Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?
When someone applies for Social Security disability benefits, the application process can be both difficult and time consuming. The Social Security Administration (SSA) gets large numbers of applications every year. While SSA does have procedures so it can effectively manage its case load and can fairly evaluate every application, it is quite easy for some applications to slip through the cracks. A recent test of SSA’s nationwide toll-free phone number illustrated that 25% of the answers to SSI questions were incorrect.
To successfully apply for your Social Security benefits, it is crucial that you have a general understanding of the application process.
- Application level. First-time applicants for Social Security will have an average wait of 120 days to receive an answer about their applications. SSA approves about 35% of those applicants for disability benefits. Out of the rejected 65% first-time applicants, 52% will give up on their claims while the remaining 48% will appeal their claims.
- Reconsideration level. If SSA denies your first-time application for Social Security disability, you can apply for SSA to reconsider your application. Out of the claimants who file their appeals within 60 days of their receipt of their initial decision, many of those applicants will wait 90 days for another decision from SSA. From the claimants who file for reconsideration, only 15% will be approved for Social Security benefits. Of the applicants who have their first-time appeal rejected, 70% will appeal while 30% will quit at this level.
- Hearing level. If your Social Security application was denied at the reconsideration level, you may ask for a hearing for your case. This is where it may be helpful to get the help of an experienced Dalton Social Security attorney. Across the country, claimants at this level will have an average wait of fifteen and one a half months for both a hearing and a decision on their case. While 55% will receive Social Security benefits at the hearing level, out of the 45% whose decisions were unfavorable, 55% will give up at this level and only 45% will appeal their decisions to the next level.
- Appeals Council. If your case made it to the hearing level and was denied, you may present your appeal to an Appeals Council. The claimants who pursue an appeal at this level usually have to wait an average of 220 additional days for the Appeals Council to hear their cases. Out of the claimants who have the appeals council review their cases, only 2% are successful in getting Social Security benefits, and approximately 23% will have their claims returned to the hearing level. Of the remaining claimants whose appeals were denied by the Appeals Council, very few will appeal their cases to federal court.
- Federal court. The remaining claimants who choose to appeal their cases at the federal level will have an average wait another 540 days to receive a decision from a federal court. At this level, the federal court will only approve benefits for a few claimants. The vast majority of these appeals are sent down for a reconsideration of Social Security benefits at the hearing level.
Are you applying for Social Security benefits for the first time? Are you filing an appeal based on your initial denial of Social Security benefits? If you answered yes to either question, you should consult with Dalton Social Security attorney Trevor Brown.