TICK TOCK... HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
Applying for Social Security Disability benefits can be quite a lengthy process. The most recent public data showed that the current average wait time for a hearing in the Hattiesburg, MS area is 20 months. For the Mobile, Baldwin, and Escambia County areas the wait time was 17 months. This time is calculated from the time a request for hearing was filed until the hearing date.
Keep in mind that the hearing comes after someone has already received an initial denial for Alabama and Mississippi states and after the initial and reconsideration stages for Florida residents. The average wait time for an initial denial is 30-90 days. If you are denied, the next step is to request reconsideration for residents of Florida, and this can take an additional 30-90 days for a reconsideration decision. Alabama and Mississippi do not have the reconsideration stage and in these cases, the next step it to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Florida residents request a hearing after the reconsideration denial.
Adding those time frames together results in your typical applicant waiting anywhere from 18-24 months before they even have a hearing date before an ALJ. Once the hearing is held a decision is written by the writing department of the Social Security Administration. The writing process has developed quite a backlog for most Office of Hearing and Operations (OHO) centers. The current backlogs for the offices we usually deal with have been over 90 days to just receive the decision from the ALJ.
Unfortunately, there is no time frame in which the Social Security Administration, DDS, OHO, or Judge's must issue and render decisions in disability claims. The wait times are discouraging at best to those of you filing a claim for Disability Insurance Benefits, Supplemental Security Income, Widow's and Disabled Adult Child benefits. Usually when filing a claim for disability, people are without income and resources to meet their basic needs, much less be able to afford to have no income for over two years.
There are things you can do to help expedite claims and request decisions be made without a hearing, if you have proper documentation. Contact one of the experienced disability attorneys or representatives at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. today at 251-343-1111 for a free consultation. We can work on developing your claim as quickly as possible so you can focus on your care. Gardberg & Kemmerly specialize in helping the injured and disabled.