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What is the Time Frame for a
Typical Social Security Disability Case

   One of the biggest complaints registered by disability applicants has to do with the long delays in disability claims processing.  While SSA is working on reducing delays, in many jurisdictions, you can expect to wait as long as two to three years from the time you file your claim to the time you see a judge.

   These delays are especially burdensome if you are trying to support a family.  Unfortunately, there is no good answer to the question “how am I supposed to eat and pay rent while I am waiting for SSA to make its decision.”

   Here is a sample time frame for an average disability case:

  • January 1, 2008 - Claimant files application by calling or writing
  • January 10, 2008 - Social Security acknowledges receipt of application and schedules a phone or office interview.
  • January 25, 2008 - Social Security intake clerk takes down information contained in formal Application for Benefits Form SSA-16-F6).
  • February 1 - March 30, 2008 - DAS claims processor sends form requests for medical records to all doctors and hospitals listed on Form SSA-16-F6.  The claims processor may also send you a Disability Report (Form SSA-3368-BK) and a Work History Report (Form SSA-3369-BK).
  • April 1 - 15, 2008 - DAS claims processor collects, organizes and reviews medical records, Disability Report and Work History Report. Adjudicator will also send your file to staff physician and/or staff psychologist for review.
  • [If evidence supports a favorable decision, claimant is notified and claim is sent for payment processing.]
  • April 25, 2008 - Claims processor issues a form based denial notice. You have 60 days to appeal.
  • June 1, 2008 - you file your appeal (Request for Reconsideration form SSA-561-U2 and Reconsideration Disability Report form SSA-3441-F6).
  • June 10, 2008 - DAS acknowledges claim
  • June 15, 2008 - DAS claims processor reviews Reconsideration Disability Report and sends out form requests for updated medical information and records from any new physicians. If mental health or physical consultative exams are called for, the claims processor will schedule appointment and send you an appointment notice letter.
  • June 20, 2008 - DAS claims processor sends you Daily Living Questionnaire and will request statement from a person who knows you.
  • August 1, 2008 - Claims processor organizes file, reviews it and takes it to an in-house physician/psychologist for review.
  • [If evidence supports a favorable decision, claimant is notified and claim is sent for payment processing.]
  • August 15, 2008 - Claims processor issues a form based reconsideration denial notice.  You have 60 days to appeal.
  • September 15, 2008 - you file Request for Hearing (form HA-501-U5) and Claimant's Statement when Request for Hearing is Filed and the Issue is Disability (form HA-4486).
  • September 30, 2008 - Social Security office issues confirmation of receipt of hearing request.
  • November 1, 2008 - your claims file is electronically transferred from the DAS to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR).
  • June 15, 2009 - ODAR personnel review the file and exhibits are numbered
  • August  1, 2009 - ODAR finishes its work-up file and sends notice to you (and your attorney) that file is ready to be reviewed.  CD of worked up file is maileded to attorney.
  • September 1, 2009 - Hearing notice is issued for hearing on October 15, 2009.
  • October 15, 2009 - case is called by Administrative Law Judge
  • March 1, 2010 - Judge issues decision.

   If you were not counting, this sample case took almost 2 1/2 years.  Even more frustrating, according to SSA’s own data, during this 2 1/2 years, Social Security personnel spent approximately 7 working days on this file. The rest of the time, this file was sitting on a table, gathering dust.

   While there is not much you can do to speed up the process, you should recognize from this sample time frame that you must not be passive when it comes to pursuing your claim.  If your doctor will not fill out disability related forms, get another doctor.  If your treatment regimen is not resulting in an improvement, get a second opinion.

   Social Security lawyers and Social Security judges recognize that every case file tells its own story.  Your exhibit file should reveal you as an honest, sincere claimant who would prefer to be working but cannot do so because of a serious medical or mental health condition.

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