If you’re still working when you apply for Social Security disability, the SSA will automatically reject your claim. Don’t apply for SSD benefits until five months after your disability forces you to stop working, according to SSA guidelines.
Most SSD applicants wait 3-5 months before hearing a decision on their claim. If you have a terminal illness or condition on the Compassionate Allowances List (CAL), your review time is much faster. In 2016, the SSA reviewed CAL list and Quick Disability Determination (QDD) claims in 18.5 days, on average. If the examiner can’t make a decision with available medical records, you must undergo a consultative exam (CE) instead. If this happens, it can add 1-2 months to your SSD claim’s review time.
Most people ask, “How soon can I get my first payment after my SSD claim’s approved?” SSA guidelines say the soonest you’ll get your first payment is six full months after the date you became disabled. If your doctor diagnoses pancreatic cancer on May 1, your earliest SSD payment arrives on December 1.
You must appeal within 60 days after your denial letter arrives in the mail. Otherwise, you’ll have to start the whole SSD application process over from scratch. In most states, your first appeal is called “reconsideration” and it takes 77 days, on average, to process. But if you live in a state shown below, you’ll skip directly to an ALJ hearing instead:
If the SSA denies your first appeal, you have another 60 days to dispute that decision. However, an ALJ hearing can take 6-12 months to schedule before a judge. The soonest most SSD claimants can plead their case at an ALJ hearing is two years after they first applied.
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Learn how the SSA decides who may or may not qualify for monthly disability benefits before you apply.
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