Time Frame for Social Security Benefits

| December 18, 2015

In an ideal world, people with disabilities would receive immediate support, but the modern world is far from ideal. If you are applying for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits, the following steps may take you two years or more to complete:

1. Filing the Claim

When filing for benefits, it is crucial that you submit the initial documentation within the legal time limit. Your claim depends on how many “work credits” you have. If you’ve been working full time for many years, you should have enough credits to qualify, but your credits will begin expiring if you don’t apply within five years of your last
workday, and the Social Security Administration makes few exceptions. You can file online, by mail, over the phone, or by going to a Social Security office in person.

Close up of social security application with calculator and pen

Close up of social security application with calculator and pen

2. Waiting for a Hearing

Once you have filed the claim, you must wait for the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review to hold a hearing and determine whether you are eligible for benefits. Wait times vary depending on where you filed the claim. If you live in Georgia, you will likely have used one of the following offices:

  • Downtown Atlanta– The average wait time is 1 year, 5 months
  • North Atlanta– The average wait time is 1 year, 7 months
  • Covington– The average wait time is 1 year, 7 months
  • Macon– The average wait time is 1 year, 5 months

Although your claim may succeed on the first try, two-thirds of Social Security disability claims do not. It pays to assemble as strong a case for your approval as possible. The more evidence you have, the more likely it is that your application will be approved on the first try, especially if you hire an attorney to represent you. Regardless of what steps you take, however, you should be prepared to go through this process more than once, which can more than double the total amount of time it takes to be approved.

3. Obtaining the Payments

Social Security does not allow you to receive payments until at least five months after you were disabled, but the approval process usually takes so long as to render this a moot point. Once you are approved, you must wait one month to receive your first payment, as Social Security pays its recipients in arrears. Depending on the nature of your disability, you may receive backpay to cover all the months between when you were disabled and when your application was approved.

Morgan & Morgan is committed to helping all families receive the benefits they deserve as soon as possible. For more on Social Security in Athens, GA, contact us today.


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