How long will I wait to get a Social Security disability hearing decision and what should I do while I wait?
Learn how long you will wait for a Social Security Disability hearing date and a decision, and what you can do to help your appeal while you wait.
Waiting for a Disability Hearing Date and Decision
A Social Security hearing with an Administrative Law Judge is the second level of appeal. You can request a hearing if your reconsideration has been denied or only partially approved. Your request for hearing will be processed by the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, commonly called the hearing office.
The Social Security Administration said that the average number of days it took to process a request for hearing in 2011 was 491. That’s seventy weeks or sixteen and a half months. A relatively small part of that time occurs after the hearing, when the Administrative Law Judge writes up his decision. How long it takes to get a hearing date and/or how long it takes the judge to render a decision after the hearing depends on the number of hearings being filed at that time and the complexity of your own claim. If the judge wants additional medical information, either before or after the hearing, it can lengthen processing time.
Supporting Your Disability Appeal While Waiting
While you are waiting for your hearing to be held, there are a few things you can do to help your claim: Be sure to follow your doctor’s advice, including keeping requested appointments and filling your prescriptions on time. Advise your doctors that you have filed a hearing. If you have changes in your health, or you have a vocational assessment or new medical testing, tell your attorney or the hearing office right away. Also report any changes in your work activity or address.
If you do not already have professional representation, don’t wait till the last minute to hire an lawyer who is experienced with Social Security Disability law and disability hearings. Your attorney can start work on gathering everything needed for your hearing as soon as it is filed. For information about what happens at a Social Security hearing, please see our article What Is a Social Security Disability Hearing and What Can I Expect When I Request a Disability Hearing? For additional information on the value of having a lawyer for your Social Security Disability hearing, see How Can a Social Security Disability Lawyer Help Me Get Social Security Benefits?