How long after I complete your Social Security Disability application (or SSI application), does it take to get a decision?
In Colorado where I practice as a disability lawyer, it usually takes between four and six months after you apply to get the initial decision. Sometimes, Social Security will describe this as between 120 and 180 days.
Anything longer than that, particularly when getting into 8 or 9 months or longer, and it starts to look like something has gone wrong.
Every once in a while I get a call from someone who tells me that they applied 10 months ago and still haven’t gotten a decision. And the first thing that pops into my head is that Social Security did make a decision, although the person may not have gotten it. Social Security is actually pretty good about getting the initial disability decision out in about 6 months.
So, how do I find out if a decision was made?
Simply call your local Social Security office or the toll-free 800 number 1-800-772-1213 and ask. Once you get a person on the phone (which may be a while), let them know when you filed and they will be able to see if a decision has been made and when.
If a decision has been made, but you did not get it, Social Security can send you a duplicate.
However, keep in mind that Social Security assumes you got the decision and if you were denied, there is a time limit running on filing the appeal!
I missed the deadline! Is there anything I can do now?
Even if you missed your deadline, you may still get a second chance: Social Security will let you file a late appeal. HOWEVER, you will have to include what is called a “statement of good cause for late appeal.” All this means is that Social Security will ask you to write out WHY you were not able to file the appeal on time.
Then, a Social Security judge will review your letter to decide if there is good cause to excuse the late filing and allow the appeal to proceed. You might think that not getting the denial would be automatic good cause. However, it really is all up to the judge. It may take a few months to get a response. If the judge does not grant the late filing, then you will get a “Notice of Dismissal.” This means the judge did not find good cause and has dismissed the case because the appeal was not filed on time. If that happens, you might be able to appeal that decision. But, normally, you are back to square one.
When does the 4 to 6 months begin?
Now, keep in mind that the four to six month time frame is from the date you complete the application (not from when you start it). Some people take months to get the application finished and that time does not count toward the 4 to 6 month estimate.
When is the Social Security disability application done?
If you are applying for disability online, you will get a confirmation page that thanks you for applying, gives you a confirmation number (to check the status of your application) and tells you what additional information you may need to send to your local SSA office. Once you mail in the required physical documents (the main thing you need to send right away is the authorization allowing Social Security to get your medical records), Social Security can begin processing your case.
That’s when the 4 to 6 months starts.