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How Long Does It Take To Receive Disability Benefits

How Long Does it Take to Receive Disability Benefits?

In another blog post, we discussed what it takes to be eligible for disability benefits.  Once you know you are eligible for disability benefits, the next question is invariably how long you may have to wait on a decision. To get a better understanding of general timeframes, it’s good to know how the process works.

When a claimant first files for benefits, this is known as the Initial determination level.  According to the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR), only about one-third of disability claims are approved at this level.    If the SSA denies a claim, that decision must be appealed; this is called a “Reconsideration.” According NOSSCR, only about 10% of cases are approved upon Reconsideration. If the SSA again denies the claim, a Hearing must be requested before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). ALJs approve disability claims about half of the time, as a national average; however, having a representative aid you at hearing can significantly increase your chances. There are appeals processes beyond a hearing. It is important to note there are always deadlines claimants must file all appeals by.

According to, the average wait time at each level is as follows:

  • Initial:  104 days;
  • Reconsideration:  103 days; and
  • Hearing:  Processing times for hearing offices vary.  I have provided the current wait time for local offices:
    • Chattanooga:  13 months
    • Kingsport:  17 months
    • Knoxville:  16 months  

These wait times differ and can sometimes take even longer than expected.  During this lengthy and arduous process, an experienced attorney can help guide you along the way.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office and speak to myself or one of our qualified attorneys.