Social Security Disability Processing Time

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If you ask someone how long it takes the Social Security Administration to process a claim for Social Security Disability benefits, you are likely to receive broad range of answers. Time estimates can vary from a few months to a few years. Why is there so much discrepancy in Social Security Disability processing time estimates?

Many different factors affect how long it takes for the Social Security Administration to process your disability application. The biggest factor that comes into play in Social Security application processing times is whether or not your application is approved in the initial stage of the disability application process. If your disability application is approved during the initial stage of the application process it may only take a few months for your Social Security Disability claim to be approved. If, on the other hand, your initial application for disability benefits is denied and you are required to move forward to file a disability appeal, the processing time for your application may be much longer.

Believe it or not, where you live can have a significant impact on how long it takes the SSA to process your disability claim. There are currently more than 750,000 disability cases backlogged in the Social Security system. Some states have more of a backlog than others. If your state is one with a significant backlog, you may experience serious delays in the processing of your disability claim.

The initial stage of the Social Security Disability application process usually takes about 90 to 120 days to complete. The part of the disability claim process that often takes the longest is the disability hearing. It is not the hearing itself that takes a lot of time, but rather the time you have to wait to actually receive your Social Security Disability hearing.

National, the average a Social Security applicant waits approximately 442 days to receive a hearing. This means that it will likely take more than one year just to receive your day in court. The exact amount of time it takes to be scheduled for a hearing will depend on the state in which you live. If you are lucky, your wait time will be at or below the national average of 442 days. In some cases, however, the wait can be much longer.

The following are the average processing times for a Social Security Disability hearing by state:

  • Alabama: 474 days.
  • Arizona: 469 days.
  • Arkansas: 338 days.
  • California: 410 days.
  • Colorado: 475 days.
  • Connecticut: 409 days.
  • Delaware: 352 days.
  • Florida: 507 days.
  • Georgia: 459 days.
  • Hawaii: 315 days.
  • Illinois: 576 days.
  • Indiana: 525 days.
  • Iowa: 528 days.
  • Kansas: 505 days.
  • Kentucky: 390 days.
  • Louisiana: 393 days.
  • Maine: 314 days.
  • Maryland: 452 days.
  • Massachusetts: 409 days.
  • Michigan: 558 days.
  • Minnesota: 534 days.
  • Mississippi: 449 days.
  • Missouri: 467 days.
  • Montana: 441 days.
  • Nebraska: 630 days.
  • Nevada: 443 days.
  • New Jersey: 537 days.
  • New Mexico: 408 days.
  • New York: 465 days.
  • North Carolina: 434 days.
  • North Dakota: 405 days.
  • Ohio: 549 days.
  • Oklahoma: 384 days.
  • Oregon: 568 days.
  • Pennsylvania: 394 days.
  • Puerto Rico: 411 days.
  • Rhode Island: 342 days.
  • South Carolina: 435 days.
  • Tennessee: 376 days.
  • Texas: 351 days.
  • Utah: 339 days.
  • Virginia: 393 days.
  • Washington: 524 days.
  • Washington DC: 330 days.
  • West Virginia: 324 days.
  • Wisconsin: 480 days.

As shown above, the processing times can vary drastically from one state to the next. Individuals living in Maine wait less than one year to receive a Social Security Disability hearing, while individuals in Nebraska wait more than a year and a half on average. Some people have been known to relocate just to speed up the Social Security Disability application process and receive their hearing date more quickly.

If you do not want to move to another state but are willing to move to a different location within your state, it may still be possible to speed up your request for a Social Security Disability hearing. This is because some states have more than one hearings location and locations can vary drastically when it comes to processing times. In California, for example, there are sixteen different cities in which Social Security Disability hearings are held. In Stockton the average wait is 327 days, whereas the average wait is 602 days in San Diego.

If moving is out of the question and you are in dire need of Social Security Disability hearing, you may want to contact the SSA to request an expedited hearing. You will have to prove the validity of your request for expedition and it is important to remember that not all applicants will be granted this request.

In most cases, the best way to expedite your disability hearing is to provide information as quickly as possible to the SSA, respond to requests in a timely manner and file all appeals as soon as possible.