Why does it take so long? Claimants for Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are often impatient to receive their benefits, and rightfully so. Claimants for these benefits are usually without much needed income during the interim period that they await benefits. By the time benefits commence, their financial situations may worsen to the point of causing hardship and stress, both emotional and financial.

Applicants receive a disability award letter when a claim is allowed. If a disability claim was allowed at the initial application or reconsideration stage, you should receive a disability allowance letter soon thereafter. Keep in mind that the SSA must process the final decision, which will cause some delay.

Award letters for approvals obtained before an administrative law judge (ALJ)  may take a longer period of time since the decisions of ALJs must be set forth in a writing detailing the decision. With the significant backlog of cases, there is the waiting time for a hearing, maybe case development after a hearing, a typing and processing backlog to issue a decision., etc.  IN short, it can take 1-2 years to go from asking for a hearing to a decision from the ALJ.  Then the SSA has to process a favorable decision for payment.  It all adds up.

Your medical records must be collected from applicable medical sources. Waiting for these medical records often may take a few months. If this medical information is not current within the past 90 days or doesn’t sufficiently address your medical conditions, a consultative medical exam may be scheduled. These exams are also subject to the schedules of the respective physicians and it is safe to assume that these appointments are significantly backlogged.

An unfortunate reality of the Social Security disability system is that these delays wouldn’t necessarily occur if there was not the excessive backlog of claims taxing the system. Much of this is because of any number of reasons:  SSA hiring freezes (there is one right now), retirement of SSA personnel (the SSA is perpetually short on human resources), shortage of ALJ’s to conduct hearings, class actions that require the SSA to re-adjudicate hundreds or thousands of cases, technology initiatives are not near as productive as first imagined, basic case development cycles, quality assurance protocols, and regardless of the underlying merit of a claim, the SSA is legally obligated to process every single claim, and provide due process of law to all claimants.  Some people can file over and over… This is much of the reason that disability cases “take so long.” Some would say “forever.”

An experienced disability attorney can help claimants properly file their claim for benefits, thus minimizing the delays that often result. Contact the Sullivan Law Office today by calling 888-587-0228 or visiting us online! We offer free consultations, so you have absolutely nothing to lose! We look forward to hearing from you.What Is The Wait Time For Decisions? Part 2: Why Does It Take So Long?