If you’ve been denied Social Security disability benefits, you’re in good company. Most people who apply for SSDI are denied at first. Fortunately, a great many of those who stick it out and pursue the appeals process are ultimately approved.

The question of how many times you can go through the appeals process is a bit misleading, as it seems to suggest that you can repeat the process. In fact, there are multiple opportunities within the process, but you only get one chance at each. Here’s how the process goes. 

Social Security Disability Appeals Process:

When you’ve been denied SSDI benefits, you can take the following steps: 

  1. Request reconsideration – this is a review of your application and supporting documents by the same section that initially denied your claim. A different decision-maker makes the determination, and you can submit additional information. 
  2. Request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) – if your claim is still denied on reconsideration, you can request a hearing. This is a more fully-developed appeal, where you can present witnesses and additional medical information to the decision-maker.
  3. Request review by the Appeals Council – if the ALJ finds against you, you may request Appeals Council review. However, a Council hearing isn’t guaranteed. Only a small percentage of requests are scheduled for a hearing. 
  4. File a petition in federal district court – once you’ve exhausted every administrative possibility, you can file a civil suit in federal district court. This is the final step for most applicants whose claims have not been approved at an earlier stage. 
  5. Appeal the federal district court’s decision – some applicants who lose in federal court can file an appeal. However, this process requires specific grounds, and this option isn’t available to everyone. 

So, in short, there are five possible stages of appeal after an SSDI denial. However, the ALJ hearing has the highest approval rate. That means most applicants never reach the later stages. 

An applicant who has been denied disability benefits can apply all over again. Whether or not that is a good idea depends on a variety of factors, including the reason for the denial, how far you got in the appeals process, how much time has passed, and whether there have been changes in your medical condition since you last submitted information to the SSA in connection with your disability claim. Generally, it is better to continue along the appeals process than to reapply, for a variety of reasons. So, it’s essential to talk to a Social Security disability advocate to determine the best avenue to take.

To learn more about how Disability Help Group can help you, contact us or call (800) 800-2009 right now.

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.

How Long Does it Take to Get Social Security Disability Benefits?

How Long Does it Take to Get Social Security Disability Benefits?

How Long Does it Take to Get Social Security Disability Benefits?

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the average processing time for a new Social Security Disability (SSDI) application is three to six months. But, the average processing time varies from state to state. And, that estimate can be a bit misleading. That’s the average time SSA says you should expect to wait for an initial determination. But, a significant percentage of applications are denied at this stage. Working your way through the process of reconsideration and appeals can take much longer. 

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to speed up the initial application process and increase your chances of being approved earlier in the process. 

Expediting Your SSDI Application 

SSA doesn’t offer an expedited process for disability benefits, but you can take steps to make the process as efficient as possible. First, SSA says you can cut your processing time in half if you apply online. 

Ensuring that your SSDI application is complete, you’ve provided all necessary documentation, and your medical providers promptly share necessary information can also help move the process forward. A Social Security Disability Benefits Advocate can be your best source of assistance in putting together a clear and complete application to give you the best chance of approval. 

What if the Initial SSDI Application is Denied? 

If your initial SSDI application is denied, the next step in most states is a request for reconsideration. This step is usually quicker than the initial application, but the success rate is low. The highest rate of approval occurs at the next stage: a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). However, it can take more than a year to get a hearing before an ALJ, and then several months to receive your determination. Those who are denied at this stage may require an additional step, or even two, to complete the process. 

In short, a claim for Social Security disability benefits may be approved in just a few months, and you may begin receiving benefits as soon as six months after you become disabled. But, most SSDI application claims are denied in the initial rounds, meaning that many who apply for disability benefits don’t start receiving benefits for two years or more. 

A Social Security Disability Advocate Can Help

Your best chance of receiving Social Security disability benefits as quickly as possible is to ensure that you avoid missteps in the process, don’t miss any appeal deadlines, and provide complete documentation to the SSA in a format that is easy to work with. 

The process can be daunting. At Disability Help Group, we understand the process, and we understand the stress you’re under and how important it is for you to receive your disability benefits. To learn more about how we can help, call (800) 800-2009 or contact us right now.

How Receiving Social Security Disability Can Help You Get VA 100%

How Receiving Social Security Disability Can Help You Get VA 100%

How Receiving Social Security Disability Can Help You Get VA 100%. Receiving Social Security disability can help you get a 100% VA rating.  However, receiving Social Security disability doesn’t guarantee a 100% VA rating.  It can be used as powerful evidence for your VA claim.  Although, these decisions only help if you can show your conditions are service-connected. 

VA disability benefits

VA disability benefits require that you meet certain conditions.  You must have a current diagnosis.  That diagnosis must be service-connected.  You must also show a medical nexus or connection between your diagnosis and in-service incurrence.  The VA considers your disability service-connected if your medical condition:

  • Firstly, Was directly caused by military service
  • Secondly, Occurred while in the military
  • Thirdly, Was aggravated by military service or
  • Finally, Caused by conditions that are service-connected

VA disability rating and TDUI

Disability ratings range from 10% to 100%.  Next, it can be hard to earn a 100% disability rating when you have more than one disability.  Fortunately, the VA provides an alternate route to total disability rating based on individual unemployability (TDUI).  The VA considers your ability not only get a job but also to keep a job.  You meet the conditions for a TDUI rating if your disabilities prevent you from working and:

  • You have a single service-connected rating or have a combined disability rating of 70%

Social Security disability helps establish a current diagnosis

Firstly, SSDI looks at your medically determinable impairments (MDI).  Secondly, Social Security considers any condition that has an impact on functioning as an MDI.  Thirdly, a Social Security hearing decision includes a list of your disabilities.  Therefore, your Social Security approval helps determine your diagnoses. Receiving Social Security Disability Can Help You Get VA 100%. Call Now for a Free Case Review.

Social Security disability helps establish service-connection

Frequently, applicants for Social Security disability have to testify at a disability hearing.  During the hearing, the judge asks a lot of questions about your disabilities.  Often, applicants provide detailed explanations about their conditions.  They also explain when conditions started.  A Social Security hearing decision includes a summary of testimony.  Therefore, your Social Security hearing decision helps establish service-connection. 

Example:  Social Security hearing decision helps establish service-connection

Likewise, a veteran applied for disability benefits for PTSD.  During the hearing, he testified that he witnessed a young girl get hit by a vehicle while on patrol during his service.  He also testified that since his service, he started blacking out and became violent.  He testified that he didn’t sleep well, had significant paranoia and was very depressed.  The judge’s decision included the veteran’s testimony, helping to establish that his PTSD was connected to his service. 

Social Security disability helps establish severity

Social Security has a difficult standard to meet for eligibility.  You must show that your medical conditions prevent you from working in any job.  A judge’s decision must explain why a case meets the requirements for disability.  The decision includes specific reasons how significantly medical conditions impact a person’s functioning.  Therefore, a Social Security disability decision can help explain how severe your conditions are. 

Example:  Social Security hearing decision helps establish severity

Hence, a veteran applied for Social Security disability due to a lower back impairment, depression and anxiety.  During the hearing, the veteran testified that he injured his back during his service.  He could no longer perform his duties as a postal worker.  As a result of his chronic pain and limitations, he developed significant depression and anxiety symptoms, requiring medication and therapy.

In his hearing decision, the judge explained that his lower back condition caused significant limitations with standing, walking and sitting.  The judge also explained that his depression and anxiety symptoms caused significant problems concentrating.  The veteran provided the VA a copy of the decision, which helped him qualify for TDUI. 

Example:  Social Security hearing decision helps establish severity

For instance, a veteran applied for Social Security disability due to a traumatic brain injury.  He suffered from episodes of aggression, poor memory and difficulty getting along with others.  In his hearing decision, the judge referred to evidence in his record documenting that he needed a lot of help with his daily activities.  Specifically, he needed help with medication management and reminders to take care of his personal hygiene. 

His mother took him to all of his medical appointments and helped manage his bills.  His medical records documented that he could become very aggressive often.  The Social Security judge determined that the veteran would not be capable of maintaining any job.  The decision helped increase the veteran’s VA disability rating. 

Getting help with your Social Security and VA disability claims

Both Social Security and VA have complicated application processes.  The process can be even tougher when Social Security or the VA issues a decision that completely ignores the evidence.  Working with an experienced advocate helps increase your chances of getting approved.  They know how to turn a loss into a win.  An experienced advocate can analyze your case and help you receive maximum benefits.  It helps to have knowledgeable experts on your side. 

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.