Why Does my Claim Take So Long and What is Happening Behind the Scenes at the Social Security Administration?

by Vaughn Clauson on June 23, 2011

why disability cases take so longPerhaps the most frustrating and upsetting part of the Social Security disability process has to do with the long delays associated with the processing of your case.  From start to finish, you case can take well over a year, sometimes even as long as two years.

The reason your case takes so long has to do with Social Security’s very cumbersome decision making process and its staffing structure:

  • when you first call or apply online, your case has to be opened in Social Security’s computer system
  • next, your case will be assigned to an “adjudicator” who works in a different office.  In fact, the adjudicator works for the State of North Carolina, which has a contract with the federal government to evaluate claims.  Your case may not reach the adjudicator for 4 to 6 weeks after you file
  • the adjudicator will request medical records and other evidence.  This process can take 3 to 4 months, then the decision has to be processed by the Social Security local office.  This process can take 4 to 6 months.
  • if you are denied, you have 60 days to file for a reconsideration.  Once again, your claim has to be processed by the local Social Security and electronically sent to the adjudicator.  Another 3 to 5 months will pass before the adjudicator makes his decision.
  • Assuming you are denied at reconsideration, you must request a hearing.  Usually, when you request your hearing, a full year will have passed from the time you filed your claim.
  • Social Security hearing offices are working at capacity and not at full staff, so you may not get a hearing for another 3 to 12 months.  Once your hearing is held, you may not get a decision for 1 to 2 months.

Thus, it is entirely possible that start to finish, your case may take 2 years – an awful long time if you are not working and dependent on friends and family for food and shelter.

What has your experience been – how long did it take?

Next, we’ll talk about steps that you and we (Clauson Law) can take to speed up the process.  Of course, if you want to discuss your case with an attorney now, call us at 866-674-8810 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 866-674-8810 end_of_the_skype_highlightingor use the form on this blog to contact us.


Vaughn Clauson is a US Air Force veteran, and an experienced disability attorney. Vaughn is a board certified specialist in Social Security disability law and has dedicated his career to representing the disabled. Vaughn and his associates have represented thousands of clients, and have experience with any type of disability claim.

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