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How Long Do SSDI Cases Take?

Submitting an Application SSDIWhen you suffer a disability in Arkansas, you may be eligible to receive benefits through either the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI) or the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI). The majority of disabled individuals in Arkansas, however, rely on SSDI to help them supplement their income after a serious injury. This federal program is an entitlement program that pays individuals supplementary income after a disability as long as they’ve paid into the Social Security System for at least 10 years.

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Unfortunately, collecting your SSDI benefits isn’t always easy—many valid SSDI claims are denied initially. This forces disabled applicants to go through a lengthy appeals process before being able to collect the money they need after an injury. This process is a highly regulated and long process without the help of an experienced Arkansas SSDI lawyer. Even with a lawyer on your side, the length of this process will depend greatly on the type of injury you suffered, where you live, and the severity of your condition.

How Long Does It Take to Get Approved for Disability in Arkansas?

When applying for Social Security disability benefits, a claim will go through multiple stages before a final decision is made. This process can take a considerable amount of time and resources. Remember that there isn’t a set time frame for claims to be approved or denied. Each level may vary in the amount of time it takes to receive a decision. The time it takes for a claim to be resolved will ultimately be determined by how far into the appeals process a claim must go.

In general, there are five steps to the SSDI claims process and each one can take a considerable amount of time:

  1. Initial Claim – Three to four months
  2. First Appeal – Three to four months
  3. Hearing Level – Nine to 10 months
  4. Appeals Council – One year or longer
  5. Federal District Court – Eight months

While the SSDI process in Arkansas can be lengthy, remember that every case is different. Hiring an experienced Arkansas SSDI lawyer can help speed up this process tremendously. Your lawyer will be able to gather the necessary evidence and medical records to ensure that your claim is given the best chance of succeeding. If your claim does proceed to a hearing or an Appeals Council, you can rest assured knowing your attorney will guide you every step of the way.

At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, our Arkansas SSDI lawyers have the experience and resources you need to win your SSDI appeal. We work tirelessly for our clients, to help them obtain all of the benefits they’re entitled to.

Why Does It Take So Long to Get Approved for SSDI?

The SSDI claims process can take a long time because various judges and councils must examine all of your medical records and testimony thoroughly. These individuals will be responsible for determining whether or not your injury qualifies as a disabling condition. To do this, they must determine the full extent that your injury will affect your life both now – and in the future. Will it prevent you from working completely or will it simply prevent you from working in a specific job? Will your injury and disability prevent you from obtaining the same income you did in the past and how will your injury affect your future ability to earn income? 

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First Step: Initial Claim – Three to Four Months

The first step of the Social Security Disability process is to file an initial claim with the Social Security Administration. They will then send your claim to the Arkansas Disability Determination Services to determine the medical validity of your SSDI claim. Approximately 70 percent of all SSDI claims fail on the first attempt and during this first stage, an applicant will likely have their claim denied. It can take roughly three to four months for this stage to be completed.

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Second Step: First Appeal – Three to Four Months

Once your claim is denied, applicants must then go through the first appeal for reconsideration of their claim. New evidence is then gathered and submitted to support your claim for disability. This first appeals process can take an additional three to four months before applicants receive a final decision. Only 30 percent of applicants are successful in their first appeals attempt.

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Third Step: Hearing Level – 10 Months

If your claim is denied again, you must then request that your claim be reviewed at the hearing level by an Administrative Law Judge. The ALJ will gather all medical records and evidence and you will be given an opportunity to testify regarding your disability. In Arkansas, there are two local offices for hearings, one in Little Rock and one in Fort Smith. The average wait time for a hearing is 9.5 months and the average processing time is roughly 387 days.

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Fourth Step: Appeals Council – A Year or Longer

If the ALJ denies your claim, the next step you can take is to appeal this decision by filing an appeal to the Appeals Council. It can take up to a year or longer for an Appeals Council to make their decision regarding your claim. If they deny your claim and uphold the ALJ’s original decision, then you will have only one final step left to have your SSDI claim approved.

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Fifth Step: Appeal Federal District Court – Eight Months

If the Appeals Council upholds the ALJ’s denial, then you may be able to file an appeal to the federal district court. During this process, SSDI applicants will wait an average of eight months to receive a final decision. If the federal magistrate Judge upholds the ALJ’s original decision, then you will have exhausted all of your legal remedies.

Contact Our Arkansas SSDI Attorneys

If you need to apply for social security disability in Arkansas, it is important to speak with an experienced SSD lawyer immediately. We can help you file the disability claims you need and prevent mistakes from occurring that could jeopardize your claim. With six offices in Arkansas and Tennessee—Little Rock, Fayetteville, Conway, Hot Springs, Bryant and Memphis —our SSDI lawyers are easily accessible from the moment you need us.  Fill out a free contact request form, which only takes a minute, or simply dial (800) 767-4815 and tell us your story.

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