How Long Does a Social Security Appeal Take?

The Social Security appeals process can take a year or more.
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If you've applied for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits, receiving a denial letter can be extremely frustrating. Fortunately, you have the right to file an appeal. Time frames for appeals vary: You might see a resolution in a few weeks, yet it's possible for appeals to take a year or more. The factors that affect the timing of an appeal include the stage of the appeal process, as well as the caseload at the state agency that processes your case.

Stage of the Appeal

The Social Security Administration may initially decline your claim for benefits and will notify you by mail of its decision. Your state's policies determine what happens next. In many states, you must first request a reconsideration of your case. During the reconsideration, a different claims examiner and medical expert will review your case. If this new team declines your claim after the reconsideration, or you live in a state that doesn't require you to request a reconsideration of your case, you can begin the formal appeals process by requesting a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. If the judge rules against you, you may take your case to the Appeals Council. Finally, you can take your appeal to federal court.

Typical Appeal Time Frames

The waiting time between starting the appeals process and getting a final answer on your claim varies. A reconsideration determination can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. If you request an administrative hearing, you can expect to wait eight to 12 months, or even longer, for your hearing. Appeals Council determinations can take a year or more, as can federal court decisions.