If the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies your claim for disability benefits, you can appeal and seek a hearing before an administrative law judge. But expect a wait for as long as nine months before your hearing gets scheduled.
According to the SSA, nationwide cases in October took nearly nine months to reach hearings with administrative law judges. But remember, depending on which of the nearly 170 regional hearing offices reviews your case and its details, the wait may be much longer – up to 16 months — or even much quicker – as soon as five months.
Other steps to complete beforehand
Remember, though, that you have other steps to complete before getting to the hearing stage. And these steps will take some time, too:
- Typically, before your case gets to a hearing, you must seek a reconsideration from Pennsylvania’s Disability Determination Services, which reviewed your initial application. You have 60 days to file for a reconsideration after a denial.
- Expect the processing time for the reconsideration to take three to four months. If an examiner rules against you, you have 60 days to seek a hearing before a judge, who reviews your case, the available evidence and hears testimony.
The entire process takes patience and can be frustrating. A big reason for these waits is that each year, the SSA receives thousands of requests for hearings. In addition, before the estimated 1,350 judges hear the cases, they must prepare by reviewing an abundant amount of paperwork for each one.
A legal advocate may guide you
Your frustration is understandable. You are a disabled worker who seeks these much-needed benefits. Working with a skilled and determined attorney who understand the SSA and its workings will ease some of the burden.