How Long After an SSDI Hearing Can You Expect to Wait for a Decision?

How Long After an SSDI Hearing Can You Expect to Wait for a Decision?

How long it will take to adjudicate your particular claim will depend on several factors, and the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will consider your case very carefully. You should know going in that you will not receive a ruling from the bench during your initial hearing, and that there may be other steps you have to go through, including an appeal if your first judgment is not favorable.

Check Your Local Office

Wait time also varies by office, even though rules regarding SSDI are the same from office to office. Some offices simply have more people or there are other reasons the offices are faster or slower. You can see how long your particular office normally takes before issuing a decision by going to the Social Security Administration’s page that lists the hearing offices’ processing time, currently ranked for 2020, and accounting for data collected from 9/28/2019 through 7/31/2020. Unfortunately, the novel coronavirus is probably causing delays that make it harder to estimate times right now.

Do You Qualify for SSDI?

The first question you need to ask is if you are eligible for SSDI benefits. The basic qualifications require you to have worked in a job or jobs that were covered by Social Security, so you may not qualify if, for instance, you were self-employed and did not pay into Social Security. The second requirement is that you must have a medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability. The general rule is that the disability must cause you to be off work for at least a year because of the disability. There is an Adult Disability Checklist provided by the Social Security Administration that will help you see if you are qualified and make sure you have what you need for the application process

The SSDI Process

There are several steps in the process for getting SSDI payments, and they all take some time to get through. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can start receiving benefits.

Initial Stage

The first thing you need to do is fill out an SSDI application. It is most important to remember to fill out every question, answer honestly, and give as much detail as possible. Give examples of how your disability is affecting you, and attach extra papers if necessary. You could fill out the application pretty quickly, but it is better to set aside some hours where you can give it your full attention. Even if you do a great job on your paperwork, there is a high chance that your claim will be denied. About 70% of claims are denied the first time, and it normally takes about 3 or 4 months before you hear back with that initial decision.

Request for Reconsideration

If you do receive a rejection on your first application, you can keep the claim alive by filing a Request for Reconsideration. It is better to keep your claim alive because your benefits will start faster if you are approved faster. Do not wait to file, because you only have 60 days to ask the SSA to reconsider your claim. After those 60 days have passed, this application is done. If the SSA denies your request to reconsider, you have three choices:

  1. Do nothing, and stop pursuing a disability claim entirely.
  2. Fill out a new initial claim, and start the process over with a new application.
  3. File a Request for Hearing (usually your best option — but again, you only have 60 days after the rejection to ask for a hearing)

Hearing

The idea of going to a hearing sounds frightening because most people are unfamiliar with court hearings and do not feel comfortable in court. However, SSDI hearings are not as confrontational as most other hearings, such as criminal proceedings. This is actually your best chance of getting approved because you will get a chance to present your case to an Administrative Law Judge. You can represent yourself, but it is highly recommended that you go with an attorney who is familiar with SSDI matters.

About 30 days before the hearing, you will get a notice that you are to appear at your Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). Your attorney will help you present your case in a way most favorable to getting the conclusion that you want, and helping you understand which evidence you have that will be most compelling to the ALJ. 

Again, you are not going to get a decision from the judge on the day of your hearing. It usually takes at least a few months before you get a decision in the mail. If you win at the hearing, you will get a Notice of Decision and a Notice of Award. If you lose, the last thing left is an appeal.

Appeals Council

The Appeals Council is not there to evaluate the facts of your case. Like other appeals courts, they do re-weigh the evidence or listen to other facts. They are there to consider your reasons as to why you think your appeal was denied and make the decision based on the rules of SSDI. The Council may decide that the ALJ did not consider the evidence carefully enough, but in those cases, the case will be sent back to the ALJ with instructions to look at that evidence again. 

The time it takes for the Appeals Council to hear your case ranges from 60 days to a year. Like other appeals courts, this depends a lot on what other cases are currently ready to be heard. After all that time, you may just have to go back and have another hearing in front of the ALJ. Most of the time, though, the Appeals Council upholds the ruling of the ALJ. If they uphold the original decision, this claim is probably over. 

Once You Lose an SSDI Claim, What Do You Do?

If you lose at the highest level when pursuing your claim, that application is done, but that does not mean that you are not allowed to keep pursuing a disability claim. You must simply start over with a new application.

Starting a New Application

Most people who file for SSDI try to get through the process without help. Especially if you have already lost an SSDI claim, get an SSDI Attorney to help you when you file again. Your SSDI Lawyer has seen many different kinds of SSDI cases and helped other clients fill out the paperwork. SSDI Attorneys attend hearings with their clients and help keep them up-to-date on what is happening with their cases. This is especially helpful with these kinds of cases because they take so long to get through from start to finish.

The most important thing is that your SSDI Lawyer has successfully helped other clients to get their disability awards, so will know how best to present your case to the ALJ. If you did not use an attorney the first time, it is highly recommended that you get legal counsel when starting over to get the best chance of being successful at getting the award you deserve.

When Do the Award Payments Start?

Even if it takes you a long time to successfully win your claim, your payments do not depend on the day the Court decided to make the award. When your application is finally approved, you will receive payments starting on the sixth full month after the date of your disability began. So if your disability started on June 15, 2019, your payments would start in December 2019. Another thing to remember is that you will receive your payments in the next month, so if your first payment was for December 2019, your first payment would be in January 2020.

How Much Will You Get?

This depends entirely on you and your personal work history. Your benefit will be based on a lifetime average of your social security earnings. You can check out your potential future Social Security benefits at any time by creating an account at My Social Security

Get Help Now

It is never too late to get the assistance of an SSDI Attorney, but the sooner you get help, the sooner you are more likely to get your application approved.

What Other Benefits Can I Get With SSDI?

What Other Benefits Can I Get With SSDI?

What Other Benefits Can I Get With SSDI?

When you become disabled before you are old enough to retire, you become dependent on other sources besides work for your regular income. If you have worked at a job covered by Social Security Disability Insurance, you may be eligible for SSDI benefits. However, many people find that these benefits do not fully replace the income they had before they became dependent on disability benefits.

There are other kinds of benefits you may be eligible for, that will help you to continue to live and support yourself and your family. A Social Security Disability Lawyer may be able to help you identify some of the government benefits you may be qualified for.

Supplemental Security Income

This benefit is offered by the government for people who cannot receive SSDI  and applies to those who meet several conditions:

  • You must be over 65.
  • You are blind or disabled.
  • You either never worked or you did not accumulate enough credits to qualify for SSDI.
  • You no longer qualify for SSDI, and have not worked for a long time.
  • You have low income and assets and you also have dependents who are disabled.

Eligibility for this benefit depends on the income and assets of the individual applicant. This is a benefit that can go along with SSDI, for people who are under 65 and still receiving SSDI benefits. Because the benefit is determined by income, the same people who qualify for Supplemental Security Income often also qualify for Medicare, which is an important way to get health insurance.

Medicare

While this health insurance benefit is normally only for those 65 and older, there are certain people, including certain disabled people, who may be able to receive Medicare benefits before they turn 65. Medicare has different plans with different coverage options, and applicants can review the options and choose the one that best benefits themselves and their families. The monthly fee or premium is different depending on the chosen plan.

Part A

There is usually no premium associated with Plan A, although people who purchase it may pay up to $458 per month. Plan A has a $1,408 deductible for each insurance period and $0 coinsurance for the first 60 days. Part A covers hospice care, home health care, and inpatient care at a hospital. There may some differences in specific coverage according to state laws.

Part B

The cost of the Part B plan is $144.60 per month, or higher if you have a higher income. There is a $198 deductible, after which you are usually responsible for 20% of your bill for approved services, including hospital visits, outpatient therapy, and durable medical equipment. If you have Part B, much of your regular preventive care is automatically covered by your policy. such as screenings for cardiovascular disease, glaucoma tests, scheduled vaccines, lung cancer screening, and a yearly wellness exam. Part B also covers items like clinical research and ambulance services.

Part C and Part D

These plans offer several options and are based on income. Part C consists of private plans that include the services offered in Parts A and B. Part D is for drug coverage, and there is a list of approved pharmaceutical drugs and generics, with drugs listed by tier.

Medicare also has other options like a Medicare prescription drug plan and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap). When choosing a specific plan, it is recommended that applicants consider relevant factors such as whether they take specific drugs that might be more specific, if they take generic drugs, and if they need their drug costs to be kept to a minimum if possible.

Supplement Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP)

Many people find that one of the hardest things to do with limited resources is to purchase healthy choices for meals. The SNAP program, formerly known as the food stamp program, seeks to fill that gap so that people who are working with limited income can still be healthy and make healthy choices without worrying about how much they are spending for groceries.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees the program, although it is administered by state Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) agencies. This program was originally started to help low-income families make it through troubled times, but the program has expanded to help more people and offer more options. Now the SNAP program can be used at not just groceries but convenience stores, department stores, and even farmers’ markets. 

Workers’ Disability Benefits

You may be able to get disability assistance through an employer or through an insurance company if you or the employer was carrying the correct kinds of insurance policy to cover situations such as yours. Depending on what the policy states and how it works with your SSDI, you may be able to use the extra disability benefits as supplemental income or use the extra income until you are approved to receive your regular SSDI benefits.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

While many people complain that the amount of compensation offered by these kinds of programs is not very much, the benefits can be very helpful, especially if you have become disabled because of work and are now needing the extra income. Most employers, unless you are an independent contractor, are required to have insurance to protect themselves and their workers in the event that an employee becomes injured or ill because of their employment.

Even small businesses are responsible for their employees, and if you can prove that your employer was negligent, you may wish to pursue a civil claim against the company. If you are an independent worker, pursuing a civil claim may be the best way to collect from the company that is responsible for your disability. 

Veterans Affairs Disability Benefits

Disabled veterans may be eligible for their own benefits, which are not just limited to income. If individuals become disabled because of their service, they are eligible to receive monthly benefits, whether the condition was completely a result of their service or was simply made worse by it. Surviving family may also be eligible for benefits, including a spouse, children, or even parents.

VA disability compensation is tax-free and may be a benefit received alongside several other kinds of benefits. Veterans may also be eligible for other kinds of benefits, such as reduced-rate loans or other services offered through local agencies.

Temporary State Disability Benefits

When you are unable to work, the bills pile up fast. You may need help before you are approved through the federal disability benefit program. Your state probably offers assistance to disabled individuals so that they can make it through until the time they are able to start collecting their SSDI.

Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) 

HEAP is a federal program that helps keep the heat on for qualified individuals who currently have low or reduced income. The program also offers financial assistance for those who need cooling assistance, and the representatives can help families to make their homes better weatherized so their bills are not as high. If needed, there is additional financial assistance for individuals who need to have their furnaced repaired or even replaced.

Other Local Programs

Depending on the locality, there are several other kinds of benefits individuals may be eligible for, at least on a temporary basis. For instance, there are some township programs that offer rent assistance or daycare vouchers for those who need help. Most places have different kinds of options so that individuals can obtain extra food, and there are often local organizations that offer donations of clothing and other needed items.

An Almost Endless Amount of Help

If you feel lost and alone because of your disability, never forget that there are many government programs and individuals who want to help you meet all your needs. While it may seem overwhelming, your SSDi attorney can help you connect with the places that offer help. These services and goods are often offered with no questions asked, and the recipients are treated with fairness, compassion, and respect.