Social Security Disability Review and Appeal Timeline

The area of Social Security Disability (SSD) can sometimes feel overwhelming, particularly when it comes to understanding the timeline of reviews in California. The timeframe for SSD reviews can vary significantly depending on the specifics of each case and the type of review being conducted. This article aims to shed light on the typical timelines involved and factors that may influence the duration of the SSD review process.

When to Apply for Social Security Disability

If you’re still working when you apply for Social Security disability, the SSA will automatically reject your claim. Don’t apply for SSD benefits until 5 months after your disability forces you to stop working, according to SSA guidelines.

Initial Review Timeline

Upon filing a Social Security Disability claim, the initial review is the first step in the process. The Social Security Administration (SSA) states that disability application decisions typically take between 90 to 120 days​​. However, depending on the review type and the case’s complexity it can sometimes take up to 6 months​​

Appeal Process Timeline

The appeal process for Social Security Disability claims in California can be broken down into several levels. If your initial claim is denied, which is a common occurrence, you have the right to appeal the decision. Below are the stages of the appeal process, each with its own timeline:

Reconsideration Appeal Level

At this level, your claim is reviewed again by a different examiner. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the reconsideration usually takes less time compared to the initial review. The typical timeline for disability application decisions at this level ranges between 90 to 120 days, as per SSA guidelines. However, delays can occur if there are requests for additional medical records, multiple consultative medical examinations are needed, or if a claimant has recently undergone surgery or experienced a major medical event like a heart attack or stroke​.

Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge

If your claim is denied at the reconsideration level, you can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The timeline for this stage can be significantly longer, with individuals often waiting up to 14 months for their hearing date. This wait time can be attributed to the backlog of cases awaiting review and the time it takes to prepare for the hearing​​.

Appeals Council Review

If dissatisfied with the ALJ’s decision, you can request a review by the Social Security’s Appeals Council. The timeline for this review can vary widely, and there’s no standard timeframe. It’s not uncommon for this process to take up to 1 year or more.

Federal Court Review

The final level of appeal is a review by the Federal Court. This stage can also take a significant amount of time, often extending over 1 year.

Each level of appeal involves a thorough review of your claim and possibly additional evidence. The timeline for each stage can be influenced by various factors including the complexity of your case, the completeness of your medical records, and the backlog of cases awaiting review at each level.

Continuing Disability Review (CDR) Timeline

Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) are conducted every three to seven years depending on your age and medical condition​. The complexity of the CDR process and your right to appeal are handled by a team from Disability Determination Services (DDS), the state agency that reviews files for the SSA​​.

Need Help With Your SSD Claim?

Should you find yourself facing a denial of compensation or simply seeking guidance through the Social Security Disability claim process, Kenneth G. Marks is here to assist. With extensive experience in Social Security Disability Law, our team is well-equipped to provide the support you need. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation and let us help you on your journey towards securing the benefits you deserve.