Whenever I meet with a new client one of the first questions I’m usually asked is how long it takes to get a claim approved. The answer can be painful and unpleasant. In the best case scenario, it can take as little as 2-3 months to get an approval. However, very few cases will be approved so quickly. Most cases will require having to go before a Judge at a hearing before it’s approved, and in the Columbus, Ohio area that can take around 2 years from the date of the initial application.
Once an application is filed, there are three levels of review. The 1st is the Initial level, which generally takes 3-5 months. During this time, Social Security is reviewing the application and any supporting documentation provided by the claimant, ordering medical records, and possibly sending the claimant to an exam with one of their doctors. Only around 35% of applications are approved at this level. If the claim is not approved, you have 60 days from the date of the decision to file an appeal. One way a claimant without an attorney may derail their claim is by filing a new application rather than appealing this denial. There are very few instances where you should re-file rather than appeal. Re-filing will start the process all over again and possibly cause a loss of some benefits.
The 2nd level of review is the Reconsideration level. The procedure is much like the Initial level, and it usually takes another 3-5 months. Only around 10% of claims are approved at the Reconsideration level. Again, if the claim is not approved you have 60 days to file an appeal, otherwise known as a Request for Hearing.
Filing your Request for Hearing will put you at the 3rd level of review, known as the Hearing level. At this stage you will finally get to present your claim to an Administrative Law Judge. While the good news is that approximately 42% of claims are approved at this level, the bad news is that currently it’s taking about 17 months from the time the Request for Hearing is filed until you actually have a hearing with a Judge. This is because, except for a few rare exceptions, the hearings office schedules hearings on a first come-first served basis.
This process can be daunting, and perseverance is key. I’m here to help you as a guide and advocate. If you’re in need of representation for your Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income Claim, please call me at (614) 586-7900. I’d be happy to discuss your claim and options with you.