When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, one of the questions you may have is how long it will take to get SSD. Initially, the Social Security Administration claims an average of three to five months to get a decision on your case. The reason for a variance in the length of time it takes is because of the wait for medical records, evidence and any other information needed to make a decision on your case.
If you are not approved for SSD the first time, then you will need to file an appeal. An appeal is a different animal, and it takes much longer than your initial application. It's for this reason that many people work with attorneys to make the best initial application possible.
How long will an appeal take?
The U.S. Government Accountability Office has shown that the average processing time for appeals is around 600 days as of 2017. The average processing time was much shorter just a few years ago, with it being shortest between 2011 and 2012 at just around 400 days.
Presently, the SSA does monitor appealed cases and the transfer and processing times. Right now, the SSA doesn't have a way to accurately measure each Social Security office's particular contributions or how fast each office handles appeals. This is a problem, because it leaves applicants with no way to know how long it will take to obtain a decision on their cases.
What is the GOA and SSA doing to help?
The Social Security Administration is taking steps to address the issue of long waits by transferring appealed disability cases to offices that have more capacity. For example, if office A has a backlog of 400 cases while office B has only a backlog of 50, it makes sense to transfer at least a portion of the cases from office A to the less-strained office. This helps applicants get a faster decision, so they can decide what to do next.
It's been recommended that the SSA develops better timelines and metrics to show their offices' performance ratings, which would help identify backlogs and transfer them to offices that could help. The GOA also wants to see the SSA improve by more efficiently identifying which cases should be transferred. These suggestions could help people, like yourself, find out about an appealed SSD decision much sooner, so you can get the benefits you need.