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How long before I receive my Social Security Disability benefits?

Obtaining Social Security benefits can be a long and frustrating process. The Social Security Administration is experiencing an unprecedented backlog of cases. As a result, disabled individuals are waiting longer and longer for the benefits they deserve and desperately need.

How long you will wait to receive your benefits depends, in large part, on where you are located. Determinations on initial applications are made by state agencies, often called Disability Determination Services (DDS). Generally, it takes three to four months to receive a decision on your initial application, though this varies by state. Responding to DDS requests as quickly as possible will ensure that your case is not delayed.

In certain circumstances, you may receive your benefits more quickly. Social Security will expedite claims where the claimant’s medical conditions are so serious they obviously meet disability standards. The Administration has designated a list of conditions which are processed as “compassionate allowances.” Individuals suffering from these conditions can receive their benefits in as little as 30 days. Compassionate allowance conditions include Acute Leukemia, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Gallbladder Cancer, and Pancreatic Cancer. For a complete list of conditions considered for compassionate allowance go to

If your initial application for benefits is denied, you will have to file a Request for Reconsideration. Again, the case is sent to DDS to make a determinatio

If you are again denied, you will file a Request for Hearing. Once filed, your case will be transferred to an Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) and a hearing will be scheduled. On average, it is taking 18 months from the date the hearing request was filed for a hearing to be held. This varies greatly depending on location.

What can you do to speed the process? Social Security will expedite hearings if you:

  • Are in dire need (without food, shelter, or medical care);
  • Have a terminal illness;
  • Are a veteran with a 100% permanent and total disability rating;
  • Are a Wounded Warrior.
  • Contact Portnoy Disability for more information about the process and how to speed it up.

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