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why does it take so long?

The Patience Game, by Spector and Lenz

When you’re applying for Social Security disability, there are so many forms to complete and so many documents to supply. Not easy. But the greatest challenge is how long it takes. Many people are surprised that if an initial claim is denied, the appeal process may be as short as two years, and as long as 3.5 years.

Why so long? The volume of cases – huge – and the appeals. If your application is denied (and 65% are), you are entitled to four levels of appeal. 


Reconsideration, the first appeal, looks for mistakes in the decision on the application, and requires 2-5 months. An Administrative Law Judge hearing, in which everything is reviewed with a fresh decision, requires up to 18 months. The next appeal is to a board, the Appeals Council, which requires 6-12 months. Finally, you have the right to appeal to the federal courts, and that usually takes 1-2 years.


Your best shot at approval is on the first round of application and review, so it pays to have experienced help with the application and appeal process. 35% of those first level applications are approved, and you want to be one of them. We are proud to have an Applications Specialist in our office who makes the paperwork look easy.

How long is long?

It takes several months from date of application to get a disability determination in the Chicagoland area. If your claim is denied and a hearing is required, it may take 2 1⁄2 to 3 years to have your case heard by a judge.