Frequent Social Security Questions Answered

Everyone has unique Social Security questions, but there are several of them that tend to arise over and over, no matter who is doing the asking. This post will detail some of the most common questions about Social Security benefits and attempt to offer some clarity about these subjects.

How long does the disability benefits process take?

How long it takes to receive benefits is dependent upon many factors, including at what level of review your claim is approved. A claim approved at the initial level of review, after an application is filed, can take a lot less time than a case that goes to hearing before an administrative law judge.

Other factors that can impact the time it takes for a case to be approved include the backlogs existing at your state’s Disability Determination Services and your hearing office, which is called the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). A claim can take as short as a few months to be approved or up to several years depending upon the nature of the individual claim.

When you apply for disability, you have to be prepared for the possibility that you may be in for the “long haul” before your claim is decided. Work with a Social Security disability lawyer with a successful track record.

Are there any fees or costs incurred in disability claims?

It is fairly common for Social Security disability attorneys to offer a free initial claim evaluation where they can answer your Social Security questions in more depth. In most disability claims, you will not be charged a fee unless and until you win your claim, at which time the SSA will withhold the fee from past due benefits (if there are any) to pay your representative directly.

That being said, there may be costs that will be incurred during the claims process, e.g., the cost of obtaining your medical records or doctors’ reports, if your attorney has to order them.

What are my chances of winning my disability claim?

If you are in the initial stages of deciding to apply for disability, the national average for winning at this point is approximately 3 out of every 10 people. Thirty percent (30%) probably doesn’t sound very promising, but keep in mind that this is a national average and there are a number of considerations that go into winning or losing a claim.

For example, can you provide a medical and work history that is detailed and complete? Will your doctor prepare a written statement detailing your condition and explaining how those conditions either meet or equal the SSA’s listed impairments or restrict your functioning such that you are unable to perform your past work or any other work? And perhaps most importantly, are you willing to go through the appeals process if you are initially denied? Perseverance can be critical to succeeding in your claim.


Disclaimer: Thank you for your questions. Mr. Feingold's comments are offered as a public service, are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice for any specific legal situation or problem that you may have. Please be advised that no attorney-client relationship is created between Richard Feingold and those who post to this website. If you have a legal problem, you should contact an attorney to personally discuss the matter. You may contact Mr. Feingold for resources for finding legal help. Thank you.