How Long Does a Social Security Disability Review Take?

Since I'm not sure whether you mean a review of your initial disability application or a continuing disability review (after you've been receiving benefits), I'll cover both.

Initial disability application. In most cases it takes three to five months for you to receive a decision on disability application. If your initial application is denied, you can apply for what is called reconsideration.

Reconsideration means that  you are asking an  individual at Social Security who has not handled your case before to review and reconsider Social Security's initial decision. At the reconsideration level you can submit any new evidence that was not submitted in the initial application.  The reconsideration process can also take three to five months. (In certain parts of  Alabama,  New York,  Alaska, Missouri,  Michigan,  New Hampshire,  California,  Colorado, Pennsylvania and  Louisiana,  there is a pilot program in which Social Security has eliminated the reconsideration step, so appeals go directly into the Social Security disability hearing track, saving a few months' time.)

If you are denied at the reconsideration level, you can request a Social Security disability hearing, meaning that you are asking for an opportunity to have your case heard by a Social Security Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Unfortunately, this step takes the longest of all - not because the judges are slow to decide - but because most hearing offices are so busy that it can take over a year to even receive a hearing date. After a Social Security judge has conducted the hearing, it usually takes one to three months until the Social Security judge issues his or her decision. Then, after the favorable decision is mailed to you, it can take another three months until you receive your benefits, but often it's not that long.

Continuing disability review (CDR). When your file is up for a periodic review, Social Security will send you a form in the mail, either a short-form or long-form disability report. Once you send the form back, it usually takes one to two months for Social Security to review your case. Most, but not all, disability recipients are approved for continuing benefits after their review. To learn more, see our article on CDRs.    

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