Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits protect working adults from abject poverty after an injury or an illness. Workers contribute towards Social Security with every paycheck they receive and can eventually make a claim based on those contributions for retirement benefits.
If someone has a medical condition that ends their career before they reach retirement age, SSD benefits will help them pay their bills. Unfortunately, many applicants for SSD receive rejection letters after they first apply and only get benefits when they appeal.
How long might it take for you to have a hearing in front of a judge?
A hearing is not the first appeal stage
It’s important to understand that there are specific stages for an SSD appeal, and a hearing is actually the second level of appeal. Typically, before you can share your story with a judge, you will have a reconsideration of your application first.
In a small number of cases, this stage will reverse the original decision and grant someone benefits. Many others will need to go on to the hearing stage.
You will wait months for your day in court
There are simply more applicants than there are judges or professionals to validate their benefits claims. It’s common for people to need to wait close to or sometimes more than a year to see a judge about denied Social Security benefits. Currently, the Sacramento office reports an average wait time of 10 months for a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. San Francisco has a slightly shorter average of nine months.
The good thing about that wait time is that it provides an opportunity for you to prepare for your hearing. Gathering evidence and documenting the daily impact of your condition on your life can increase your chances of succeeding when you appeal for SSD benefits.