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How Long Does It Take to Get Approved for Disability Benefits?

August 24, 2021 Disability

One of the most common questions for Social Security disability applicants is “how long does it take to get approved for disability benefits?” And, as with most legal questions, there is not a straight answer — only generalities. Everyone’s case is different and the Social Security Administration (SSA) processes applications on a case-by-case basis, so the exact timeline is different for each applicant. However, it is possible to give most applicants a rough estimate, as our Baltimore SSD attorney explains below. 

Generally, About Three to Five Months in Maryland

The SSA claims that it generally takes about three to five months to make an initial decision. Once an applicant is approved, it takes another five months before he or she will begin receiving benefits. Thus, under the most ideal circumstances, an applicant could theoretically begin receiving benefits about nine months after applying. 

But…Expect Delays

In an ideal world, all disability applicants would be approved and begin receiving their benefits on a tight schedule. However, that is not how the disability application process works in the real world. According to 2018 data (the most recent available), only 36% of applications for Social Security disability were approved at the initial determination stage. At the reconsideration stage, that number fell to 9.8%. At the hearing level and above, it increased to 48.4%. As you can see, it is rare for an applicant to be approved at the initial stage within the SSA’s three- to five-month timeline. Rather, most applicants must request a reconsideration or even move to the appeals stage, which can significantly lengthen their application timeline.

How to Increase Your Chances of a Speedy Approval in Maryland

Medical denials are the second most common type of denial after technical denials. To increase your chances of a speedy approval, there are certain steps you can take to speed the medical examination process along. These include: 

  • Providing all of your medical evidence: The SSA wants a full picture of your medical history. You can make it easy on your examiner by providing your entire medical file at the start. If your examiner requests additional information, respond promptly. 
  • Staying on top of your application: If the SSA can’t contact you with a question, it may deny your application. Make sure that you are monitoring your application’s progress and have provided all of your contact information. 
  • Checking to see if your case is “critical”: The SSA offers expedited processing for certain conditions it deems critical.
  • Hiring an attorney: Disability attorneys are experts on the rules and procedures of the Social Security disability program and will be able to help you cut through confusion and avoid mistakes that can slow down the application process.

Contact a Baltimore SSD Attorney for Help with Your Disability Application

To increase the chances of a smooth and speedy application process, you should consider working with an attorney. To get started, please contact Baltimore SSD attorney Emmett B. Irwin by calling 443-839-0818 or using our online contact form.