Myth: It takes years to get approved for disability

Myth: It Takes Years to Get Approved for Disability: DAG Radio, Episode 3

Hi. This is Jack Hawkins, host of Disability Approval Guide Radio. This week we’re talking about a myth that has a lot of people hesitating to apply for the benefits they need. People approved for disability benefits don’t always wait years for their first payments.


Myth Rating: Somewhat True

If you approved for disability the first time you apply, expect to wait 100 days, or just over three months. But that’s not the case for the majority of people who apply. That’s why the myth is actually (a little bit) true. From 2015 to 2020, the SSA approved just 21% of first-time Social Security Disability (SSD) applicants.

So let’s talk about the people approved for disability benefits on their first try. How are they doing it?

  1. CAL list disabilities and dire need cases pass through review and approval within a matter of weeks
  2. Those claimants submit all paperwork and medical proof necessary to support their claim at once
  3. They made zero mistakes and left no fields blank while filling out the application
  4. They have a disability lawyer to push their case through the review process as quickly as possible

Most people out there don’t have a disability on the CAL list. And who doesn’t miss something on government paperwork? You can hardly register your car without waiting for two hours, getting to the desk, and discovering that there’s some form or document you need that you couldn’t find on the website. That’s why so many people are struggling with filing their applications. In fact, the Social Security Administration (SSA) automatically rejects 38% of disability claims for simple mistakes people make while completing the forms. If you get a letter saying your claim received a “technical denial,” it means you filled out something on your claim incorrectly.

Average Appeal Wait Times Before Getting Approved for Disability Benefits

I have some good news and bad news.

If you have to appeal, your average wait time for a decision is 15 months. So if you file your appeal the day after you get your denial, you are looking at 18 months from the time you first apply to when you finally get your benefits.

Good news: it’s potentially a year and a half instead of “years.”

First, some not-so-great news. SSA data shows 2% of applicants approved for disability benefits during reconsideration. (That’s the second step in the appeals process if your initial claim’s denied.) However, another 9% get disability benefits at their ALJ hearing. So all told, about 34% of people who apply for SSD benefits eventually get payments. But nearly 1/3 of applicants who do eventually win only get benefits after they appeal.

How Can An Advocate Help Me Get Approved for Disability Benefits?

Here’s what the Social Security Advisory Board has to say about getting third-party representation (meaning a lawyer or advocate):

“Overall, representatives’ services have the potential to greatly expedite the disability determination process, while ensuring that the claimant receives the most informed determination possible at the initial claims stage.”

Related: What Should You Say When Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Can Lawyers Help Me Get Approved for Disability Benefits Faster?

I want to make sure you get accurate information, so let’s look at what the Social Security Advisory Board says about disability lawyers specifically:

A disability lawyer communicates clearly and efficiently with the SSA on your behalf.

“The representative should assist with any supporting information or evidence needed to make a determination. Representatives may insist all communication with the claimant be made through the representative’s office in order to establish control over both incoming and outgoing information about the claim, and to remain aware of how the claim is or is not progressing.”

A disability lawyer keeps everything on your claim moving as quickly as possible:

“Another role of the representative should be as an expeditor, following up with physicians, clinics and hospitals, employers, and others to obtain evidence or ensure that files are sent quickly to the examiner. This kind of assistance is invaluable in making sure all existing relevant records go to the DDS in a timely fashion. It can also be helpful when there is a need to track down hard-to-reach claimants, such as those who are homeless or mentally ill or who, due to financial circumstances, move frequently – often without providing notice or any forwarding address. The representative should also contact the claimant to make sure appointments for any scheduled examinations are kept, and may arrange or provide transportation to those appointments.”

Luckily, experienced Social Security disability lawyers and advocates in our network offer free consultations by phone. You can speak to a lawyer in private, get a free review of your claim paperwork, and help appealing your denial, if needed. Every consultation is completely confidential; only you can decide whether or not to get that lawyer’s help moving forward. Our lawyers work on a contingency basis. That means you’ll pay $0 for legal assistance if the SSA won’t approve your claim. And having a lawyer handle your appeal is key for benefit approval at your ALJ hearing. The SSA always has legal representation at hearings, so why shouldn’t you, too?

Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now:

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