Unless you meet what is called a Medical Listing for your condition or you meet one of the rules of the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, you will have to probably wait a very long time.
Medical Listings: The Social Security Administration has listings for many conditions determined to be severe enough to keep a person from working. However, meeting these stringent requirements is very difficult. In essence, your condition has to be very severe. For example, if you have Stage 4 cancer, or a severe form of Lupus, AIDS, etc., then the Administration will likely process your claim very quickly. In all actuality, I have seen some cases processed in as little as 30 to 45 days when one of my clients meets a listing.
Medical-Vocational Guidelines: These are rules designed by the Social Security Administration to assist in determining whether or person is disabled. If a person is over the age of 54, has only a high school education, and does not possess any skills from past work, then these rules are designed to immediately make a determination of whether a person is or is not disabled. However, meeting one of these rules and being determined disabled is not always so easy. Where there is not a rule that exactly fits, then they can only be used as a framework for a decision and this will always take time.
So, how long will you have to wait to receive a decision?
I always tell claimants to prepare for the very worst scenario:
1. You apply and you are denied.
This usually takes anywhere from three to four months (and sometimes even longer).
2. You have to file an appeal.
If you have to file for a reconsideration of your first denial, then this will also take another three to four months or longer. If you are denied again, then you will have to appeal to the hearing level to argue your case before an Administrative Law Judge.
3. Once you are at the hearing level, it depends on where you case is going to be heard.
For example, if your case is at the Downtown Dallas Hearing Office, the wait time can be as long as 16 months before your hearing date. if you are at Dallas North, the wait is usually 12 to 14 months. If your case is at the Downtown Los Angeles office, you will likely wait as long as 18 months.
4. After your hearing before the judge, you will then usually have to wait for a written decision.
It is very rare to receive a decision orally from the bench. A written decision may take anywhere from two to four months, on the average.
So, as you can see, if you have to go the whole way through the process, then you are likely looking at two years before you are either approved or denied.
The moral to the story is this:
If you can possibly work at just about anything, choose to work. Many people wait two years or more and find out their case was denied. If you must appeal your decision after your hearing, this will take another year. If the case is denied again and your attorney has to appeal to federal court, then give yourself another year. For each step in the process, continue adding one more year.
We represent claimants throughout Texas and California fighting for their Social Security disability benefits. If you need to reach us, always feel free to call: (888) 780-9125.