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

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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. If you think it always takes years to get approved for disability benefits, then this show has some things you’ll want to hear:


Myth Rating: Somewhat True

If you get approved for disability the first time you apply, you can expect to wait somewhere around 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 2006 to 2015, the SSA shows that on average, only about 23% of Social Security Disability (SSD) applicants get approved on their very first try.

So let’s talk about the people getting approved for disability benefits. How are they doing it?

  1. CAL list disabilities and dire need cases get approved within a matter of weeks
  2. All the paperwork and medical proof necessary to support their claim is on hand
  3. They haven’t missed anything 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 go get your car registered without waiting around 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 Wait Times and Approval Rates for Reconsideration Requests and ALJ/Appeals Hearings

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.”

Not-so-great news: According to the most recent SSA statistics, about 2% of applicants get 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 approved for disability benefits at their ALJ hearing. So all told, about 34% of people who apply for SSD benefits eventually get approved for disability. But nearly 1/3 of applicants who do eventually win only get approved for disability 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.”

Disability Lawyers: What to Expect

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

A disability lawyer makes sure everything is communicated clearly to you from the SSA, and to the SSA from you.

“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 moving at its fastest possible speed:

“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 can be invaluable in making sure all existing relevant records get sent 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.”

Not Yet Approved for Disability? You May Qualify for Legal Assistance

Luckily, experienced Social Security disability lawyers and advocates in our network offer free consultations to anyone who needs help getting approved for disability benefits. You can speak to a lawyer in private, have your claim paperwork reviewed, and get representation for your appeal 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 never pay any fees unless that attorney helps you with getting approved for disability. And having a lawyer to handle your appeal is key to getting approved for disability at your ALJ hearing. The SSA always has a lawyer ready to fight for them at hearings, so why shouldn’t you have legal representation, too?

Ready to see if you may qualify for free legal help with your claim? Click the button below to start your free disability benefits evaluation now.

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