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How Long Does an SSDI Application Take?

In discussing the application process for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), it would be helpful to first explain the difference between SSDI and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). While both are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), and the purpose of both is to provide individuals with badly needed financial assistance, there are basic differences between the two.

A silver bell alarm clock stands next to a wooden court gavel.


Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides financial assistance to older adults and persons with disabilities – regardless of age – with very limited incomes and resources. In addition, SSI benefits are often supplemented by state programs. For example, in Illinois, the state’s Aid to the Aged, Blind, and Disabled (AABD) program will supplement the SSI payment if you can show that your expenses are higher than your SSI check.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), in contrast, supports individuals who are disabled and unable to work, or who have a previous qualifying work history, either through their own employment or through that of a parent or spouse.

Briefly stated, the main difference between the two is that SSI is based on a combination of age, disability, and limited income and resources, while determination for SSDI benefits is based on your disability and your work credits, that is your payments into the Social Security program during your years of active employment.

Additionally, in many states a recipient of SSI will automatically qualify to receive health benefits through Medicaid. A person receiving SSDI will automatically qualify for Medicare after receiving benefits for 24 months, with the exception of those suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease). These individuals qualify immediately for Medicare.

Applying for SSDI Benefits

If you think you may qualify for SSDI benefits, there are three steps involved in the application process.

  1. Submission – You submit your application for disability benefits to the SSA, and it’s important to remember that most initial applications are denied. Given these odds against you, it is highly recommended that you contact an experienced disability benefits attorney to guide you through the process from the very beginning.
  2. Appeal – If your application is denied, you have 60 days to file an appeal, and as with the initial application, most appeals are denied.
  3. Hearing – If your appeal is denied, you have 60 days to ask for a hearing. At your hearing, you and your attorney will present your case and supporting records to an Administrative Law Judge in an effort to secure a favorable ruling.

How long is the SSDI application process?

If you are one of the fortunate few whose initial application is approved, you may be receiving SSDI payments within 90 days of submitting your application. That is the best-case scenario. You should not count on your application results to return quickly.

In reality, the initial response time could vary from three to four months up to eight months or more.

If your application is denied, and it probably will be, and you appeal, it could take an additional three to four months to get a decision on your appeal.

Finally, if you take your case to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, it could take anywhere from six months to two years for your hearing to be scheduled and for the judge to render a decision in your case.

To summarize, you should not count on quickly receiving SSDI benefits. If you’re extremely fortunate, it could take as little as 90 days or so, but the odds are the final resolution of your application could easily take many months and possibly several years.

Social Security Disability Lawyer in Portsmouth and Norfolk

Given the many administrative and procedural hurdles that must be overcome and the length of time involved, we strongly believe that you should secure an experienced disability attorney from the very beginning of your application process.

If you’re unable to work because of illness or injury, obtaining SSDI could provide the means for you and your family to live a little easier. For over 25 years, Erik Bowman and his law firm have helped countless individuals qualify for SSDI benefits.

Let our team take a look at your social security disability case. After analyzing your medical records and case, we will be able to determine if your disability can qualify for benefits.

If you’re unable to work because of sickness or injury, please do not hesitate. At O’Neil and Bowman Disability Group, helping individuals like you is our specialty. We urge you to contact our firm and allow us to examine your case and work with you – from your initial application through your appeal and hearing – to secure the SSDI benefits to which you are entitled


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