How Long Will My Social Security Disability Appeal Take?

How Long Will My Social Security Disability Appeal Take?

How Long Will My Social Security Disability Appeal Take?

When you visit the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) website, you’ll find an estimate that it will take three to six months to receive a determination on your Social Security disability (SSDI) application. That’s true, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Most SSDI claims are denied at the initial application stage. So, the amount of time that passes before the initial determination may be much shorter than the amount of time that passes before you actually receive Social Security disability benefits. 

Appealing a Social Security Disability Denial

In most states, the first step after receiving a Social Security disability (SSDI ) denial is to file a request for reconsideration. This is typically the quickest step in the process. Still, you have up to 60 days to submit the request, and it can take another one to three months to receive a decision. Add the time to submit your request and the time waiting for a decision to the time you waited for an initial decision and you could be nine months or even a year out from your initial application when you receive a ruling on your request for reconsideration. 

Unfortunately, the success rate at the reconsideration stage is quite low. So, most applicants will have to move on to requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). 

Getting to the ALJ Hearing 

The ALJ hearing is the stage where the highest percentage of claims are approved. But, it takes time to get there. Exactly how long it takes to get a hearing before an administrative law judge varies by location. 

According to SSA data from October of 2022, the shortest average wait times in the country were about eight months. More than 60% of locations have an average wait time of at least one year, and about a dozen locations around the country have average wait times of 18-24 months. 

In other words, depending on where you are and other factors, your ALJ hearing may take place between about 18 months and three years of your initial application. After the hearing, you may get a decision in as little as a few weeks. Or, it may take a few months. 

Is There a Way to Speed Up the SSDI Appeals Process? 

There’s no way to shortcut the process, but you can keep your application moving as efficiently as possible by ensuring that you: 

  • Provide a complete and accurate application and all necessary documentation
  • Make sure you submit your request for reconsideration and appeal promptly
  • Provide all necessary information, including updating medical information, at each stage

An experienced disability benefits advocate can help ensure that you’re giving yourself the best opportunity for an efficient approval. To learn more, contact us here or call (800) 800-3332 right now.

What You Need to Know: Social Security and Long-Term Disability Benefits

What You Need to Know: Social Security and Long-Term Disability Benefits

What You Need to Know: Social Security and Long-Term Disability Benefits

Long-term disability insurance can be a great safety net. But, what happens if you have long-term disability and you would also be qualified for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI)? Understanding how these benefits work together can help with your planning while you’re healthy and working, and ease the path toward securing payments if you become disabled.

Does Long-Term Disability Insurance Disqualify You for SSDI? 

Many people are concerned that long-term disability will make them ineligible for SSDI or reduce the amount of benefits available. Social Security disability is not need-based, which means most other income has no impact on eligibility. The main exception is income earned from work, since that income may demonstrate that you’re still able to participate in substantial gainful activity.

Private long-term disability benefits will not impact SSDI eligibility or the amount of benefits received. However, certain other types of disability benefits may affect SSDI. For example, if you are receiving long-term disability through workers’ compensation, you may still qualify for Social Security disability. However, there is a cap on the combined amount of benefits you may receive. So, your SSDI payments may be reduced. 

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is different. SSI is need-based, and the income cut-off is low. In 2023, it’s just $934/month. So, depending on the amount, long-term disability could disqualify a disabled person from receiving SSI benefits. In fact, many SSDI applicants are disqualified from SSI based on their SSDI income.

Does SSDI Affect Long-Term Disability Benefits? 

The short answer is that it depends on your policy. Typically, a long-term disability insurance carrier will require beneficiaries who are qualified for Social Security disability to apply for those benefits. In that case, failing to apply for SSDI could mean losing long-term disability benefits. If you are receiving or have become eligible for private long-term disability benefits, make sure you know whether your policy requires you to apply for SSDI and what the time limit is. 

Many policies provide that benefits will be reduced by the amount of SSDI received. For example, if you are receiving $2,000/month in private long-term disability benefits and are approved for $800/month in SSDI, the long-term disability payments may drop to $1,200/month. 

Talk to a Disability Benefits Advocate

At Disability Help Group, we know how daunting and confusing coordinating disability benefits can be. We’re here to help make sure you receive all of the benefits you’re entitled to, and get them as quickly as possible. To learn more about how we can help, contact or call us (800) 800-3332.

Tips for Getting Your Disability Benefits Approved Fast

Tips for Getting Your Disability Benefits Approved Fast

Tips for Getting Your Disability Benefits Approved Fast

Social Security disability benefits offer an important lifeline to people who are no longer able to work. But, the application and appeals process can be lengthy. The delay in receiving benefits can mean a rough transition for someone who has lost their source of income. While there’s no magic bullet for getting benefits quickly, there are some steps you can take to keep your application for disability benefits moving forward smoothly and speed up approval. 

How to Apply for SSDI for the Quickest Response

Speeding up the Social Security disability benefits approval process starts with your application. 

That includes: 

Applying For Disability Benefits as Soon as You Become Disabled

For nearly all conditions, there’s a five-month waiting period. That means you don’t receive benefits until the sixth month after you become disabled. But, that doesn’t mean you should wait until the sixth month to apply. In 2021, the average processing time for an initial SSDI application was 147 days. That’s nearly five months, so get the ball rolling as soon as you have the necessary information. 

Applying Online

The SSA says applying online can reduce the time it takes to receive a determination on your initial Social Security disability application. 

Making Sure Your Disability Benefits Application is Complete

Missing information can mean delays or even a denial. The SSA offers a checklist of information you’ll need to apply, along with a worksheet to help you organize your work history and medical conditions. Take advantage of these tools to make sure your application is thorough. (And don’t be confused by the header that says these documents are for interview prep–the questions will be the same whether you apply online or live.) 

Provide as Much Medical Information as Possible

SSA can help obtain medical records if necessary. But, the more information you include with the initial application, the more efficient the process. 

Keep the SSDI Application Process Moving

Most initial applications are denied. A lot of Social Security disability applicants who are denied in the first round are later approved, so don’t get discouraged. But, don’t drag your feet, either. The sooner you move on to the next step in the process, the sooner you’ll get that next decision. And, there’s a deadline for each additional step. If you miss that, you may have to start from scratch, and that could delay the process by months. 

A Social Security Disability Advocate Can Help

At Disability Help Group, we know it’s easy to get bogged down in the SSDI application and appeals process. Our team of caring, experienced advocates is here to help you navigate that process, avoid unnecessary delays, and improve your chances of approval. 
To learn more, call (800) 800-3332 right now, or fill out the contact form on this site.

Can You Work While Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits?

Can You Work While Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits?

Can You Work While Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits?

The short answer is “it’s complicated.” You can both qualify for SSDI and continue receiving benefits with some income from work. But, there are limits, and ensuring that you don’t lose eligibility can be complicated. The first step is understanding that the standards applied during the application process and the yardstick used for those receiving disability benefits are different. Income is assessed differently when you’re applying for disability benefits than it is when you’re receiving benefits. Here’s a high-level look at how your income will be assessed at each stage.

Getting Approved for SSDI While Working

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must show that you are unable to engage in “substantial gainful activity (SGA).” The Social Security Administration generally considers anyone earning more than a specific amount to be engaged in SGA. That number changes every year. 

For 2023, the SGA cut-off will be $1,470 per month for most applicants. For applicants who are blind, the cut-off is increased to $2,460 per month. This limit applies only to earned income. Other types of income, such as investment income, trust income, and other non-work income has no effect on SSDI eligibility. 

It’s important to note that these numbers are pre-tax. In other words, SSA is looking at your gross income, not the net amount you receive after deductions.

The Cut-Off for SSI Benefits is Different

Unlike SSDI, eligibility for SSI benefits depends in part on financial need. That means all income counts, earned or not. And, the earning cut-off is lower. For 2023, the maximum monthly income from all sources is $914. 

Working While on SSDI

You can work while you’re receiving Social Security disability benefits under the SSDI program. But, it’s important to fully understand your obligations, and how your income will be treated. Here’s an overview of what you need to know: 

  1. You must report any income from work to the SSA when you are receiving SSDI benefits
  2. Any month in which you earn more than the current limit will be treated as a “trial work month”
  3. For 2023, that limit is $1,050 per month
  4. As long as you’re otherwise qualified and you report your earnings, you will continue to receive benefits in trial work months
  5. If you have nine trial work months within a 60-month period, you transition to an extended eligibility period
  6. During your 36-month extended eligibility period, you can still get SSDI benefits–but only in the months when you earn less than the SGA threshold explained above
  7. If your benefits stop due to substantial earnings but you’re unable to keep working because of your condition, you have five years to restart your benefits without a new application or medical review

Here, too, SSA is looking at gross income and not the net amount you bring home. 

If you return to work after receiving SSDI, your Medicare benefits will continue for at least 93 months after your trial work period. If eligibility runs out, you can purchase continuing Medicare coverage. 

Working While on SSDI Requires Careful Management

SSA’s work incentives and Ticket to Work program offer an opportunity for those on SSDI to supplement their income as they are able, and provide a safety net for those trying to return to work. But, with reporting requirements, cumulative trial work months, and changing income thresholds, it’s easy to make a mistake. 

If you run into trouble, Disability Help Group is here for you. Our team was founded by experienced disability experts who have been representing the disabled for over 15 years. Disability Help Group understands how to work with the Social Security Administration and Veterans’ Affairs in the best interest of the disabled person. Contact us or call (800) 800-3332 to talk to a seasoned disability advocate.

How to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits

How to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits

How to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits

Social Security disability (SSDI) can provide essential income and access to medical care for those who qualify. But, the process can be complicated and discouraging. The more you know in advance about how the process works and what is expected of you, the better. 

This post provides an overview of how to apply for Social Security disability benefits. If you need additional information or assistance, a Social Security Disability Advocate can be your best resource. 

When and How to Start Your SSDI Application

The best time to apply for Social Security disability benefits is as soon as you become disabled. For most disabilities, you won’t be eligible for benefits until your sixth month of disability. But, the process can take time. Even if you are approved at the initial application stage, it can take three to six months. So, don’t delay. 

The best way to submit your application is online–online applications move more quickly, and you’ll have the opportunity to stop the process if necessary to gather information or just take a break. You can easily return to your saved application later. If you’re unable to apply online, you may call the Social Security Administration (SSA) at 800-772-1213. 

What You’ll Need for Your Social Security Disability Benefits Application

The SSA will need information about your work history, your medical condition, and your daily activities and limitations to make a decision on your application. The SSA makes some materials available to help you make sure you have all of the information you need for your application, such as this medical and work history worksheet. Gathering this information in advance is especially important if you will be making your application over the phone. 

What To Expect After You Apply for Disability Benefits

It typically takes three to six months to receive a determination on your initial application for Social Security disability benefits. If your initial application is denied, don’t be discouraged. The approval rate is low at the initial application stage, but many of those applicants go on to receive benefits at a later stage in the process. 

Learn How a Social Security Disability Advocate Can Help

An experienced advocate can help ensure that your application is complete, that you’ve provided the right documentation, and that you haven’t made mistakes that could delay or derail your claim. The earlier you get knowledgeable guidance, the better. 

If you’ve already filed and your claim has been denied, we can help with that, too. Call (800) 800-2009 to learn more about how we can put our experience to work for you.

How to Qualify for VA Compensation While Receiving SSI

How to Qualify for VA Compensation While Receiving SSI

How to Qualify for VA Compensation While Receiving SSI. Veterans can receive both VA compensation and SSI.  Both VA compensation and SSI require that you have disabling conditions.  However, the requirements to qualify differ. 

How to Qualify for VA Compensation While Receiving SSI: VA compensation

VA disability compensation offers monthly payments to Veterans who got sick or injured while serving.  You must show that your disabling condition was “incurred or aggravated by your military service.”  The VA does not require total disability.  The VA awards benefits based in proportion to your percentage of disability.  Compensation rates range from 10%-100%, in 10% increments. 

VA pension

The VA also offers benefits for veterans who have non-service disabilities.  VA pension benefits require that you were not dishonorably discharged and you meet certain financial limits.  You must also meet certain service requirements.  Additionally, you show one of the following:

  • You are at least 65 years old
  • Have a permanent and total disability
  • Are a patient in a nursing home for long-term care because of a disability or
  • Are receiving Social Security disability insurance or SSI. The OT and ICS cyber security is what is needed to protect data.

How to Qualify for VA Compensation While Receiving SSI: SSI benefits

Unlike VA compensation, SSI does not offer partial disability.  You must prove that your medical conditions keep you from working in any job.  You must also show that you can’t work for at least 12 months.  SSI also has specific financial requirements.  Specifically, these requirements include:

  • You must have less than $2,000 in assets (or $3,000 for a couple)
  • Have a very limited income
  • Are a US citizen (there are very few exceptions to this)

VA compensation and SSI benefits

Since SSI is a needs-based program, other income affects the amount you receive from SSI.  Therefore, VA compensation will reduce your SSI payments.  Social Security considers VA compensation as “unearned income.”  Social Security deducts unearned income on a dollar for dollar basis with a $20 exclusion.  The SSI federal payment amount for 2021 is $794 per month. 

How to apply for VA compensation

You can apply for veterans benefits online.  You may also apply by using VA Form 21-526, Veterans Application for Compensation and/or Pension.  Once you apply, the VA uses military doctors and other health personnel to evaluate your disability claim.  The VA may ask you to attend a C&P exam to help rate your claim.  The VA assigns a disability rate to each of your conditions.  These rates determine your Total Combined VA disability rating.  The VA then uses this rate to figure out the amount of your benefits. We Can Help You Qualify for VA Compensation While Receiving SSI.

How to apply for SSI

You must contact your local Social Security office to file. Unlike the VA, Social Security doesn’t rate your conditions separately.  Social Security looks at how the combination of your conditions impacts your functioning.  First, they consider if any of your conditions meet certain conditions under their listing of impairments, known as the “Blue Book”.  Most conditions will not meet these strict requirements.  Next, Social Security considers your residual functional capacity or RFC.  Your RFC includes both physical and mental limitations.  If Social Security determines that your conditions keep you from working, they will approve your disability claim.  Like the VA, Social Security may ask you to attend a medical exam to help evaluate your claim. 

Disabled veterans and your age

Social Security has special disability rules the older you are.  They look at a chart known as the Medical-Vocational guidelines to evaluate your claim called the “grid rules.”  The grid rules make it easier for older people to win their case.  Social Security considers your age, education and work background.  The older you are, the easier it can be to win your case. 

Can a veteran work and receive both VA and SSI?

If you are working, you may not qualify for SSI.  Social Security considers work earnings over a certain amount “substantial gainful activity” or SGA.  If you earn over the SGA limit, you will not qualify for Social Security disability.  For 2021, SGA is earnings $1,310 per month or more (before taxes).  However, if you earn more than $794 per month, you will not qualify to receive SSI payments.  Unlike Social Security, veterans can work while receiving VA disability benefits unless you receive Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU). We can help you Qualify for VA Compensation While Receiving SSI.

VA and SSI medical benefits

Veterans receiving VA disability automatically receive TRICARE benefits.  TRICARE covers health costs found “medically necessary” for your condition.  SSI recipients receive Medicaid benefits.  If you receive both TRICARE and Medicaid, TRICARE becomes your primary insurance. 

Getting help with your VA compensation and SSI claims

Get help with your case now. Firstly, your advocate helps you with your application and can make sure you provide all necessary information.  Secondly, your advocate walks you through the process and can answer all of your questions. Thirdly, your advocate knows what it takes to get your case approved.

Call Now for a Free Case Review, 800-700-0652

Make sure you start your SSDI and VA disability claim the right way and apply for all the benefits you deserve. Contact us now for a free consultation.