After your first rejection, you’ll have 60 days to submit for reconsideration — your appeal to have your application considered again. If you don’t apply for reconsideration in that time, you will have to start your application over.
The Social Security Administration (SSA), the federal office that handles reconsiderations, takes at least 100 days to process them. In 2021, they spent an average of 147 days.
Once the SSA processes your reconsideration, they’ll send you another acceptance or rejection.
The SSA rejects about 90.8% of reconsiderations, and at that point, you’ll schedule a court hearing for an appeal. This hearing happens around one to one and a half years after the SSA’s decision on your reconsideration.
You will receive your hearing date at least 75 days in advance. If you have a lawyer, they’ll confirm the hearing date and prepare materials with you.
After you attend the hearing, you’ll get a final decision from the judge within a month to a month and a half.
Applicants with certain conditions may get approval on their first application, and they won’t have to go through reconsideration or a hearing. This situation happens in rare cases.
How long does it take to get Social Security disability benefits after approval?
Once the SSA approves your benefits, you’ll get your first payment within 60 days.
1st through the 10th: Second Wednesday of the month
11th through the 20th: Third Wednesday of the month
After the 20th: Fourth Wednesday of the month
For instance, someone born on May 6th will receive their first payment on the second Wednesday of the month after SSA owes payment to them.
How long will I wait to get back pay after approval?
You will get back pay at the same time as your first check.
The SSA officially considers benefits to begin during the sixth month after the date they determined that you became disabled. They count back pay as any payments due since that sixth month.
For example, if they consider that your disability started in April 2022, payments would be due starting in October 2022. Then, if you get approval in April 2023, you’d have six months of back pay owed to you.
If you have ALS, the SSA starts benefits on the date you became disabled, increasing the amount of back pay you’ll get.
Make the process easier by hiring a disability lawyer
Frequently asked questions about getting approved for disability
How long does it take to get approved for disability?
Unfortunately, from the time you submit your application until you get approved for disability benefits takes more than two years on average. On the bright side, your first paycheck will include months or even years of back pay benefits.
Does my medical condition affect my chances of winning disability?
Your two best strategies for success are to have strong medical records and to get professional help from a disability lawyer. The SSA may approve your application faster if you have robust medical documentation of your condition. Applicants with lawyers are also three times more likely to win benefits.
Is it easier to apply for SSDI or SSI?
SSDI and SSI use the same application and have the same medical requirements. The technical requirements (income and work history) do vary by program. If you’re unsure which to apply for, try for both and let the SSA decide which you technically qualify for.
Which will pay me more, SSI or SSDI?
SSDI pays more than SSI. The maximum possible SSDI benefit is $3,627 in 2023 but the maximum SSI benefit is only $914. You’re unlikely to get the maximum though. Learn more about how SSDI and SSI are calculated.
Does where I live affect how much I get from SSDI or SSI?
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