Although the average person doesn’t know much about applying for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, they do know that plenty of qualified people don’t get approved quickly. The process is notoriously long, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) will carefully scrutinize every application that they receive.
There are systems to help those with extreme need, like FastTrack approvals and compassionate allowances. However, the average applicant will have a long, difficult wait after they first apply. A significant number of people will receive a rejection notice or denial of their benefit request rather than an approval notice.
These individuals have the right to appeal, a process that often requires a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. How long does it take to go from receiving a rejection notice to presenting evidence to a judge?
Every SSA office has its own average wait time
There are numerous SSA offices around Maricopa County, but only some of them handle SSDI applications and appeals. There are two offices in Phoenix that currently handle appeals and benefit requests. The Phoenix Downtown SSA office currently averages a seven-month wait time for appeal hearings, while the Phoenix North office reports a slightly longer ten-month average.
That might mean that it is a year or more between when you initially apply and when you finally receive benefits after a judge hears your case and decide that you qualify. Those months spent waiting are an opportunity to gather more evidence from your daily life or your medical appointments to make a more convincing case about the impact of your medical condition.
You can receive backdated benefits
You may have to plan carefully to cover your household expenses until you finish your appeal. Although it may be cold comfort after a rejection of your application, you can look forward to receiving backdated benefits if you are successful in your attempt to appeal.
You can potentially receive benefits going back to the date that you first qualified when you initially applied. Those benefits can help you pay credit card balances or medical bills that have accumulated during your appeal.
Understanding the process of appealing when you need SSDI benefits can make budgeting and planning a little easier.