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The Social Security Appeals Process¼

After the initial Social Security disability application is denied, there is a 60-day window in which to appeal. This period is known as a Reconsideration. If the claim is denied at the reconsideration level, there is another 60-day period in which to ask for a hearing before an administrative law judge, or ALJ. This is where persistence can pay off in the appeals game: more than half of the initially denied claims are overturned by ALJs.

However, that still leaves a lot of denied claims. If you are one of the unfortunates whose claim is also denied by an ALJ, you have 60 days to take your claim for benefits to the appeals council. If it is denied once more, the final step is to file outside the Social Security Administration to the Federal District Court.

Processing times for disability applications vary from state to state. A reasonable, general answer is that an initial application will take three to five months before a decision is made. A reconsideration, or first appeal, will generally take another three months, and a hearing (second appeal) will often take an additional 12 months or more.
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