If you are no longer able to work, you might need Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to replace to wages you can no longer earn. But the SSDI application process can be intimidating. Once you’ve filled out the application, submitted all the appropriate documents, and gone through any necessary medical evaluations, the waiting begins.
It can feel like forever as you watch the days go by without any word on your claim. For most, this process takes three to five months, but each case is highly individual and, in some cases, it can take over a year to reach an initial decision. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, with SSA representatives working from home, mail delays and other delays, the wait times have grown even longer.
If you’ve filed a claim or you’re considering filing an SSDI claim, then you might be wondering if there is a correlation between wait times and denials or approvals. To address this concern, we need to look at all the factors that go into SSDI claims.
What Factors Contribute to an SSDI Denial?
Before we address waiting times, let’s take a look at what contributes to an SSDI denial. If the initial decision you receive is rejection, then you might feel hopeless. But denials can be appealed, and working with an attorney makes it more likely that your claim with be approved.
An initial denial is can be due to either a lack of medical evidence or treatment. When going through the application process, it’s important to discuss how your disability impacts your ability to work with your doctors so that there is documented medical evidence of your disability. Accurate documentation will help your chances of approval.
It’s also important to follow all the treatment guidelines set out by your doctor for your disability. If you don’t follow your doctor’s treatment plan, it’s difficult for an SSDI examiner to accurately assess your disability, which can lead to an initial denial. So, if your doctor urges you to get treatment for your medical conditions, that treatment can potentially help your conditions and your SSDI claim.
Why Is My SSDI Claim Taking so Long?
Let’s say you’ve followed these steps and filled out a complete application with accurate information and you’re following your doctor’s treatment plan. Why would your claim still take so long to process?
There are two factors that can contribute to extended wait times. The first is simply that the government does not impose any deadlines for the SSDI application approval process. Examiners do not have a minimum or maximum allotted amount of time to process your claim.
The second factor that can extend wait times for your claim is that the examiner needs additional medical information to process your claim. This can happen even when your doctor provides thorough documentation. Sometimes, the Social Security Administration will even select one or more doctors as independent medical examiners and require you to see them. Those doctors then prepare a report for your claim. Of course, this would add to the length of time it takes to make a decision.
Do Denials Come Faster Than Approvals?
But when it comes to the time frame of approvals or denials, there is actually no difference. Each individual claim is investigated, and whether your benefits are approved or denied does not influence how long it takes for that investigation to be processed. So, if you’ve filed a claim and are still waiting for approval or denial, there’s no need to worry about what that timeframe means.
How to Speed Up Your SSDI Claim
To recap, there is no difference between the time frame for approvals and denials, and you have very little control over how long it takes, because it takes time for the Social Security analysts and representatives to collect evidence, obtain doctors’ reports and evaluate the case. So instead of focusing on a quick decision, focus on making the strongest case possible.
The best way to ensure you have a strong claim and more likely to get an initial approval is to work with an attorney. Attorneys specializing in SSDI have a thorough understanding of the complex application process and forms involved. And an attorney can guide you in understanding the type of medical evidence that will support a claim. If your claim is denied, an attorney can help you file the appropriate appeal.
The sooner you can get SSDI benefits, the better. We are experienced representing clients throughout the entire process, and we have a strong record of success at each stage.
To set up a free consultation to discuss the timeline of the SSDI process and what we can do to make it go more smoothly, contact us today.