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How Long Does it Take to Get a Decision When I Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?

ssd benefits application process

When you decide to apply for Social Security benefits, every day you have to wait feels like an unnecessary delay. That’s why so many of the clients we see come to us after they feel that they’ve been waiting too long for a decision.

Learn more about the factors that determine your wait time, what you can do to increase your odds of a positive outcome, and how we can help. For more personalized advice regarding your disability application, contact Dansby Law at 334-834-7001.

Average Decision Times

In Alabama, the average Social Security disability applicant waits three to five months for a decision. However, a lot depends on when you apply, how strong your application is, and how well you followed directions while filling out the forms and providing required information.

Factors That Delay Your Decision

What determines your actual wait time? While some factors are out of your control, there are many that you can use in your favor. Some of the factors that may influence the time it takes you to receive a decision from the Social Security Administration include:

  • Current case load and backlog. Bureaucratic issues can unfortunately affect those who are waiting on a disability decision. Low staffing levels, a lack of funding, and other issues can all cause a serious backlog of cases. This means that each additional case will experience an even greater wait time. This is often the situation when you see people waiting an extraordinarily long time for a decision.
  • Whether or not you filled out the forms correctly. Applying for disability can be confusing. However, the speed of your decision does rely heavily on how well you follow the directions provided by the SSA. Failing to include your contact information, forgetting contact information for your doctors, or filling out forms incorrectly can make you wait longer. This means that the caseworker assigned to your file has to either track down the information themselves or simply reject it outright.
  • Whether or not you sent in the proper documentation. Documentation is crucial in a Social Security application. It proves the extent of your disability and is the determining factor in whether or not you receive benefits. If you provide minimal documentation or documentation that is irrelevant to your case, you’ll likely wait longer for a decision.
  • The time of the year you apply. Certain times of year tend to see backups in government offices. The start of each fiscal quarter can be challenging, as well as the weeks leading up to major holidays.
  • The complexity of your case. Some cases are cut and dry, and it’s easy to see whether or not an applicant will be approved. Others require more analysis. If yours falls in the second group, you’ll likely wait longer than someone in the first group.

Making the Most of Your Initial Application

What does this mean for you? It means you want to make your initial application as strong as possible. Getting an application denied or sent back because of a simple clerical error is frustrating, especially when it costs you months of disability benefits.

Consider filling out your application with the help of a disability attorney, or at least a trusted family member who can look over your application for mistakes or missed questions. Double check the contact information you provide for each medical professional and ensure that your dates are correct.

When providing documentation, provide every relevant piece of documentation you have. People often send in insufficient documentation of their disability, choosing instead to finish their application as quickly as possible. It’s worth your time to compile your documentation and prove your disability as much as possible.

Many people find it helpful to hire a disability attorney. While you can wait until your initial claim is denied, you may be able to save time and start receiving payments more quickly if you hire an attorney right away and avoid common errors.

Turn to Dansby Law

The team at Dansby Law is committed to helping disability applicants get the benefits they deserve. If you are confused about the process or unsure about how to proceed after a denial, let us help. Call us at 334-834-7001 or get in touch with us online.

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