How Long Does It Take to Get a Social Security Disability Award Letter?

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Question

If I'm approved for disability, when will I receive my disability award letter from Social Security?

Answer

There is no set length of time that it will take you to receive a disability award letter. If your disability claim was allowed at the initial application or reconsideration review level of the disability process, you should receive a disability allowance letter soon after the state disability agency (DDS) has rendered its decision. However, first DDS sends your file back to Social Security for final processing.

If you were approved for disability benefits following an administrative law judge (ALJ) hearing, it may take even a longer period of time to receive your award letter. This can happen even if the judge indicates to you at the hearing that your claim will be approved. Why is this? Because although disability judges makes decisions on claims at each disability hearing, administrative law judge decisions still have to be written up. To help speed things up, the ALJ hands off the acutal writing of the decision to  a "decision writer." Decision writers compose the notice of decision that is sent out from the hearing office (in the judge's name), but the judge has to approve the final letter.

If a disability claimant is approved and receives a fully favorable or partially favorable decision from a judge following a hearing, the claimant will receive the disability award letter soon after (after the file is sent back to Social Security). It often take one to two months following a decision to get the notice of decision and the award letter.

Here's more information on what you can expect to find in the Social Security disability award letter.

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