How Long Will the Social Security Disability Appeals Process Take?


I have decided to appeal the denial of my disability claim. How long will the social security disability appeals process take?


The Social Security disability appeals process often takes a long time, from several months to well over a year, depending on how far you have to go up the appeals chain. There are four levels of appeals in SSI and SSDI cases:

  1. • Reconsideration – When the Social Security Administration (SSA) mails you the first written determination of your eligibility (called the initial determination), you can ask the SSA for a reconsideration of the decision.
  2. • Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing – If you disagree with the reconsideration decision, you can request a hearing before an ALJ.
  3. • Appeals Council Review – If you disagree with the ALJ’s decision, you can request an Appeals Council review.
  4. • Federal Court – If you disagree with the decision of the Appeals Council, you can file a civil action with the appropriate federal District Court.

Although the length of the disability appeals process depends on many things, including your geographic location and how busy the local SSA office is, the following are the average lengths of time for each step in the disability claim process:

  1. • Initial approval or denial: 3-5 months
  2. • Reconsideration: 3-6 months
  3. • ALJ hearing: one year
  4. • Appeals Council decision: one year
  5. • A decision from the District Court: This depends entirely on each district, but it will most likely take several months at the least.

There are some circumstances where the Social Security Administration (SSA) may expedite your case. For more information, see the article “How Can I Expedite a Disability Appeal?

by: , Contributing Author