Disability Benefits Application Timeline

Submitted by Elizabeth on

Do you plan on filing for Social Security disability benefits in the near future? If so, you may have questions regarding how long it takes to receive said disability benefits.

This overview should clarify the question at hand. Although various factors can sometimes influence the Social Security disability (SSD) benefits application timeline, in general, the information here will provide you with a better understanding of how long you might have to wait between applying for disability benefits and receiving them.

Initial Claim Application

If this is your first claim for SSD benefits, you can expect to wait between approximately 3 to 5 months before hearing whether the Social Security Administration (SSA) approved or denied your claim for benefits.

The SSA approves approximately one-third of initial disability benefits claims. That being said, it is critically important that you are aware that, if the SSA denies your initial request, receiving the SSA’s initial decision is merely one of many subsequent stages in the entire process of getting disability benefits. This is because an initial denial does not automatically mean you will be unable to collect the Social Security disability (SSD) benefits you believe you deserve.

To learn about some tips for success during the initial disability application, click here.


The Social Security disability benefits reconsideration process involves re-evaluating a denied claim for disability benefits. The reconsideration process is the first level of the appeals process for denied claims.

During this process, a different disability examiner will review the claim and any new evidence that the examiner(s) did not consider in the process that led to the initial determination. The reconsideration process typically takes 3 to 5 months to complete. And, if the SSA denies the claim again during reconsideration, you can then request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

If the SSA initially denied your disability benefits claim (application), and you plan on asking for a reconsideration, it is of the utmost importance that you act fast. Your initial denial letter will explain exactly how much time you have to file an appeal. Typically, you have 60 days. Ultimately, it is important to pay attention to the dates and timelines provided because, if you do not file an appeal (i.e., a request for reconsideration) by the stated deadline, you will likely be unable to collect Social Security disability benefits.

To learn about some tips for success during the reconsideration stage of the application process, click here.


The Social Security disability benefits appeal hearing process involves an in-person or telephonic hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This is the second level of the appeals process for denied claims and it typically occurs several months after requesting a hearing. Depending on how backed up the courts are, it can take anywhere from 6 months to two years to receive a hearing date. Again, you will have 60 days to file an appeal.

During the hearing, you will have the opportunity to present testimony and evidence, including expert witness testimony, to support your claim for disability benefits. The ALJ may also consider testimony from a Vocational Expert or Medical Expert, who may provide evidence about the claimant’s ability to work or perform certain basic tasks.

Waiting to receive a hearing date can be a frustrating experience. That said, it is very much worth noting that a longer wait can actually increase your chances of receiving an approval and higher back pay in some instances.

To learn about some tips for success during the hearings stage of the application process, click here.

Get Help With Your Disability Benefits Claim

Currently, the approval rate for Social Security disability claims is approximately 31%. So, to increase your chances of securing the benefits for which you’re eligible, it may be wise to enlist the help of a legal professional who can advocate on your behalf. To get started, complete the Free Case Evaluation on this page to get connected with an independent, participating attorney who subscribes to the website and can help you get the benefits you deserve.

Additional Resources