How long will it take to receive my Social Security disability benefits?

One of the most frustrating experiences we have a people in today’s world is the knowledge of an indefinite wait time. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits do not offer the same convenience as say, your local deli counter, which assigns you a number and you have an approximate idea of when your turn has arrived.

There are horror stories circulating of people waiting years to receive SSDI benefits, and the media is flooded with reports on the overwhelming backlog in the disability system. While these stories may hold some truth, many of the tales of multi-year waits are the result of multiple mistakes and appeals on a single claim.

Much of your personal timeline will depend on factors that you can control—factors like making sure you have included the proper paperwork and medical documentation as well as meeting all deadlines and requests promptly. Below is an approximate timeline that you can expect for your own SSDI benefits, from application through success:

  • From your first application, you can expect to receive an initial decision from your claims agent in about 3-6 months. If you are asked to return or resend any forms, or attend a consultative exam to gather more information, do this promptly in order to avoid further delay.


  • If your initial application is denied—and don’t worry, many people are denied in their first attempt to collect SSDI benefits—you can file an appeal. Once the appeal is filed, you can expect to hear back in another 3-6 months. You may be requested to resend forms or attend another consultative exam, and again, the quicker you act, the sooner you will receive a decision.
  • If your initial appeal is denied, you can file a second appeal. This appeal takes place in front of a judge, and can take a year or more even to be scheduled.

You Can Receive Benefits for the Time You Spend Waiting

That’s right: if your application and appeals process takes excessive time, you can collect backlogged benefits once you finally receive approval. In most cases, you will receive a lump-sum settlement for the money you should have received while waiting for a positive decision. That settlement will come shortly after you start collecting monthly SSDI benefits.

One of the best things you can do to speed along the process is to ensure that your application or appeal is error-free and complete. While this sounds simple enough to do on your own, there are veritable mountains of required documents and information that can often be left out if you are not experienced with the Social Security disability system.

If you are considering applying for SSDI benefits, or your application has been denied, our experienced Philadelphia disability attorneys can help you get the results you have worked so hard for. Schedule an appointment to discuss your claim today—just pick up the phone or click on the live chat link to be connected with a firm representative now.