5.6 Awaiting Decision(s)


Woman waiting decision

The Social Security Disability and SSI application processes are lengthy and consist of three main levels: Initial,  Reconsideration, and  Hearing. There are also appeals after the hearing level, but they are less common and less effective than the three main levels. 

When a claimant first applies for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the claim is review by your local Social Security office, and then sent to then sent to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) for a decision. (This is called the “Initial level.”)

During this time, the Disability Examiner will then request medical records and collect evidence. If there is a lack of evidence or clarification is needed, a Consultative Exam (CE) may be scheduled. When the file is complete, or all medical evidence has been processed, a Medical Examiner will decide. The decision is sent to the claimant (and the representative, if applicable) and the file is sent back to the District Office.

This process generally takes about 8-9 months to receive an approval decision. Unfortunately, it is estimated that about 60-80% of claimants are denied at the Initial level.

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