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As you start the process of applying for Social Security Disability (SSD), you might wonder how long it takes to be approved.

Claimants should be made aware that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has no deadlines for their response to applications or appeals. However, while the SSA doesn’t follow a set timeframe, how soon you hear back about your approval depends on a number of factors.

General Guidelines

blog-ssdTimeHearing back about your initial claim takes anywhere from 90 to 180 days, depending on where you’re located. At this stage, 35 percent of claims get approved, while the SSA rejects the remaining 65 percent.

Next, claimants go through the reconsideration stage. After you submit your appeal, you should expect to hear back in about 60 days. As a fair warning to claimants, 85 percent of appeals are still rejected.

At this point, you should consider requesting a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This stage tends to take the longest because courts tend to have lengthy backlogs of cases. You can expect to wait anywhere from 12 to 18 months just to have your hearing scheduled.

Should the court reject your claim, the next step is appealing to the Appeals Council. Another lengthy process, the AC may take up to a 18 months, or longer, to notify you of its decision. Certain factors, such as the complexity of your claim and their backlog, influence how soon you receive a response.


Since approval might take up to two years, the SSA makes exceptions for certain conditions. They are:

TERI: If a claimant is living with a terminal condition, the SSA will process your application in less than 30 days.

Quick Disability Determination (QDD): In certain instances, the SSA uses an electronic process to determine if a claim will be approved. Should it come back with a positive response, QDD claims are then put on a faster track for approval.

Compassionate Allowances: If a claimant’s condition meets the qualifications stated exactly in the Blue Book, the SSA will automatically approve your claim. The Blue Book currently has symptoms, signs and tests for 113 conditions.