If a Disability Decision Takes Longer Is That a Good Sign or a Bad Sign?

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Question

I've been waiting for months to hear whether I'll be approved or denied for disability. Is this a bad sign? 

Answer

Whether a disability decision (SSDI or SSI) takes longer or shorter than the average processing time could mean a number of things. Each claim for disability is different, and in so many different ways. 

It's true that a severely disabled person with an obvious impairment is likely to get benefits fairly quickly, either because they automatically qualify for disability benefits through an official SSA impairment listing or because they have a condition that qualifies under the Compassionate Allowances, Quick Disability Determination, or Presumptive Disability programs. But some cases are simply more complicated and take more time. For instance, a claimant who has psychological or psychiatric problems in addition to physical impairments may find that their case requires more processing time.

In addition, if your case is assigned to a disability examiner who is slower or one who has too many cases to work on, it will take longer to process your disability claim.

Another factor that is typically involved is the wait time for medical records. Disability examiners cannot make disability determinations until a claimant's records have been received. Unfortunately, some medical providers are very slow about responding to medical record requests (for this reason, it's wise to obtain your medical records and submit them when you first apply, if possible). 

In short, how long it takes to get a disability decision is not necessarily a bad sign, and how long it takes is usually outside of your control.

Updated by: , J.D.

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