Applying for and receiving your Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits can be a slow and frustrating process.
After you apply for benefits, an average wait time to receive an initial decision is between 4 to 6 months, although some cases may be a little faster and some a little slower. While the wait for a decision can be difficult, it is even more so when you find out that your claim has been denied. In San Diego County, recent statistics show that about 70% of claims result a in denial of benefits.
You have a right to appeal this decision, and it is normally a good idea to do so. This appeal is called a Request for Reconsideration. (Please note that in some areas outside of San Diego County and outside of California, this level of appeal has been eliminated; instead, you will proceed to the next step in the process) The wait for a new decision ranges from a few weeks to 4 to 6 months. Unfortunately, almost 90% of claims at this level are denied.
Again, you have a right to appeal. The next step in the process is a request for hearing. Currently, the wait for a hearing in San Diego County is about 18 months from the time your hearing request is submitted.
After the hearing, you will have to wait for a written notice of decision from the Social Security judge. In most cases, this takes about 1 to 2 months. Sometimes, however, judges seek additional information or medical documentation after the hearing, which includes sending you to a doctor for a consultation; after this consultation, you may have a right to a supplement hearing, and this will delay the process by several months.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do while you are waiting for a hearing is to consult with a lawyer. As a lawyer with experience in this area, I can do the following:
I can review the file that Social Security has to see how they made their decision that resulted in a denial of benefits;
I can determine what mistakes they might have made;
I can see what information was missing from their decision-making process and help you obtain the necessary information;
I can evaluate what non-medical issues might complicate your claim;
I can help you understand what the proof is for Social Security disability benefits and what steps we need to take to develop your case and improve your chances of winning;
I can be sure that you applied for the SSI benefits if appropriate; often your circumstances may have changed and it would be important to submit an SSI application.
Consulting with a lawyer does not obligate you to hire a lawyer. Contact me for your free consulation so we can discuss how to best proceed with your case.