Unfortunately, the Social Security disability process isn’t usually quick and easy. There are a number of time frames and deadlines involved in each step of the process. Depending on your unique case, a Social Security disability claim can take quite a bit of time. These time factors all depend on if you get denied, what state you’re in, and other decisions. Here at Parmele Law, we have extensive experience working within the parameters of the disability process. We can help you determine your options.
Most of the debate surrounding the idea of working with disability benefits stems from the concept of substantial gainful employment. Substantial gainful employment determines whether you qualify for Social Security disability or not. If the court decides that you are unable to perform substantial gainful employment (or a substantial gainful activity) for 12 months, then you will receive benefits. Substantial work is work in which you physically or mentally exert yourself. This can include part-time work even if your part-time job pays less than your previous employment. The term gainful refers to activities for which you received payment or activities for which most people receive payment. According to Social Security, an individual can earn money without having substantial gainful employment.
This is where your state comes into play. Depending on which state you live in, you may have to go through an extra level of review called reconsideration. Some of the states that use this review process are Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Illinois. If you reside in a state that uses reconsideration, you’ll have to request it if and when you get denied. After requesting reconsideration you can expect the decision to take around a few months, possibly longer. If you live in a state that doesn’t use the reconsideration process, such as Missouri, you’ll skip straight to the next step, which is a hearing before an administrative law judge.
If you’ve been denied at the reconsideration stage, or if you live in a state that doesn’t use it, you’ll need to request a hearing from an administrative law judge. Often times, claims are denied at the reconsideration stage, so don’t be surprised if you end up at this step in the process. After you request a hearing, you can expect to wait an average of 12 to 18 months for a hearing date to be determined. You’ll have around a few months to prepare for your hearing, as the dates are usually scheduled well in advance.
This is a good time to utilize a Social Security disability lawyer. Coming before an administrative law judge on your own can be intimidating and stressful. A Social Security disability lawyer can help you determine how winnable your case is, and they can help you get through the hearing with minimal stress. After you have your hearing, you can expect to wait around 30 to 90 days to get your decision. Again, this is just an average time frame, not a hard number.
Finally, if you’re denied at this stage in the process, you’ll need to take it to the Appeals Council. If you reach this stage of the process, you can expect to wait at least a few months and sometimes more than a year, for the review, appeal, and determination to be made.