How Long Does It Take To Get Disability with a Lawyer?

Updated January 26, 2024
18 min read
How Long Does It Take To Get Disability with a Lawyer?

Discovering how long it takes to receive disability benefits with a lawyer requires understanding the complexity of the Social Security Disability (SSD) claims process.

A medical condition that impedes one's capacity to earn a living can throw life out of balance. The double whammy of illness and financial anxiety about one's ability to cover one's bills and provide for one's family can be daunting. Social Security Disability benefits are designed to support those grappling with a permanent or temporary disability, barring them from gainful work. However, according to statistical data, approximately 70% of initial SSD claims are turned down.

An experienced SSD lawyer can significantly increase your chances of a successful claim or guide you through the appeal process if your initial application is rejected. This article provides an overview of the SSD claims process and answers the question: how long does it take to receive Social Security disability benefits with a lawyer?

Exploring the SSD Claims Process

An SSD claim is a plea for financial help due to continuous disability submitted to the Social Security Administration (SSA). You may be eligible to file an SSD claim if you suffer from certain medical conditions or an impairment preventing you from working and earning an income. Depending on your unique circumstances, you can file for either Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income. To have a successful claim, you must provide credible medical evidence and substantial documentation confirming your disabling condition.

Four main factors are evaluated while determining the eligibility of an SSD claim:

  • Work credits: You need sufficient work credits — usually around 40 — to be eligible for an SSD claim.

  • Medical evidence: This demonstrating your inability to work due to medical conditions requires using a medical records release form to obtain necessary health information from providers.

  • Medical condition: The SSA recognizes certain health conditions for a disability claim. If your condition is on this approved list, your claim has a higher chance of success.

  • Ability to work: Your medical condition has stopped you from returning to your past employment.

Though SSD claims can be tedious to submit due to their complexity and the time required for documentation, a seasoned SSD attorney can act as your advocate throughout the process and ensure all the necessary paperwork is submitted.

Documents Necessary for SSD Claim

Providing detailed and accurate documents can significantly enhance your chances of a successful SSD claim. You should assemble the following for your SSD claim:

  • Proof of household income and assets.

  • Document ongoing benefits, such as workers’ compensation or temporary aid for needy families (TANF).

  • Recent income earnings and work history.

  • Proof of citizenship.

  • Bank details.

  • Comprehensive healthcare records documenting your medical care and treatment.

In particular circumstances, providing a power of attorney could also be instrumental in your social security disability claim. If, for any reason, you are unable to manage your affairs during the claim process, a power of attorney can ensure your legal representation can act in your best interest to navigate through the proceedings efficiently.

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How Long Does It Take To Secure SSD Benefits with a Lawyer?

According to the SSA, the average processing time to decide on your SSD claim can take 3 to 5 months. However, many SSD cases lodged with the SSA are initially denied, and they must undergo a time-consuming appeal process.

Recent surveys show that hiring an experienced SSD lawyer could increase your chances of a successful claim. It was found that claimants with legal aid had a 60% approval rate, while those without legal support had a 34% approval rate.

The Disability Benefits Process Timeline

The disability benefits process comprises several stages, from the onset of your disability to the application and appeal stages.

You become disabled

For SSD benefits, you are considered disabled on the day you become unable to perform your job responsibilities because of your physical or mental condition. However, more than being able to continue your past employment is required for an SSD claim. Instead, you must prove that your disability prevents you from performing any reasonable level of work for at least a year.

Your doctor diagnoses your condition

Your doctor's diagnosis and medical records are pivotal in a successful SSD claim. Hence, getting an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible after the onset of your medical condition is essential. The doctor should properly diagnose you and perform any tests that could serve as evidence in your disability claim.

During the consultation, thoroughly explain how your symptoms affect your ability to work and insist on a copy of all reports describing your diagnosis and how your medical condition impacts your work.

Apply for SSD benefits

After confirming your eligibility for disability benefits and preparing all necessary documents, you can apply for SSD benefits online or at a Social Security Administration Office. The application process requires answering questions about your education level, work history, medications, medical condition, and any treatment.

The application process can be overwhelming, and unfortunately, incomplete responses can result in an immediate rejection of your application. An attorney can aid you with the application, ensuring the documentation is accurate and your answers are filled out thoroughly.

How Can A Disability Lawyer Assist With Your SSD Claim?

An SSD lawyer, an expert in disability law, knows the paperwork and processes required for a successful SSD claim. Lawyers have an intricate understanding of the SSA system and can assist in filling out the initial application or navigating the appeal process if your initial claim is rejected. They may also help you apply for other benefits, such as workers' compensation or private employer disability insurance.

Initial application

Applicants often feel confident using on their own, only bringing in a lawyer when their claim gets denied. However, hiring a lawyer from the onset can increase your chances for a successful claim and circumvent the delay and cost of an appeals process.

An SSD lawyer can assist with the initial application by explaining your employee rights, collecting the necessary medical documents, building a convincing narrative on why you deserve disability benefits, negotiating the official date of disability onset, and ensuring all paperwork is completed correctly and within the required timelines.

Disability hearing

If your claim was rejected initially, you must request a hearing within 60 days of your initial application being denied.


A disability lawyer can prepare your appeal, lodge your hearing request, prepare you for potential questions from the judge, collect relevant medical evidence, build a compelling argument for why the initial claim denial was incorrect, choose appropriate witnesses for the hearing, and prepare the witnesses for questioning.

A recent survey revealed that more than half of the claimants who engaged an attorney for their disability hearing succeeded in their claim.

In comparison, only 23% of those who represented themselves received disability benefits.

Quick Approval Tips

An experienced disability lawyer can streamline your claim and get your approval faster. While hiring a lawyer from the beginning of the claims process can ensure all requirements and deadlines are met, consider the following factors as well to accelerate your approval process:

  1. Provide all medical evidence: If your initial application lacks adequate medical proof of your disability, the SSA will request a review by their doctors, which can delay your claim. Hence, include every possible medical document and statement and the contact details of all doctors involved in your case in your initial SSD application.

  2. Collect letters from your doctors: Request a detailed letter from all of your doctors, including any specialists involved in your care, describing your condition and specific symptoms and how they affect your work capacity, and include them in your initial SSD application.

Remember, time is of the essence when dealing with SSD claims — your attorney's expertise, coupled with your attentive efforts to provide comprehensive and accurate documentation, can drastically speed up your approval process.

How Long Does It Take To Get Approved for Disability With A Lawyer?

There is no exact time frame for the approval of your SSD claim. However, employing an attorney who can advocate for your rights and assist with your application can significantly reduce the processing time of your claim.

The SSA has devised a fast-track process for severe disabling conditions requiring urgent support. This accelerated process could approve applications within a matter of days.

Conclusion

The time it takes to get disability benefits with a lawyer depends on several factors. A disabling medical condition can drastically impact your ability to work, potentially leading to an urgent need for financial support. That said, a disability benefits claim can be complex and time-consuming.

Engaging an experienced lawyer can remove some of the burden of making a claim and permit you to focus on managing your health while your claim is being prepared and reviewed. Furthermore, legal representation can expedite the approval process, ensuring you receive your much-needed financial assistance promptly.

Article by
Yevheniia Savchenko
Lawrina

Yevheniia Savchenko is a Product Content Manager at Lawrina. Yevheniia creates user interface copies for Lawrina products, writes release notes, and helps customers get the best user experience from all Lawrina products. Also, Yevheniia is in charge of creating helpful content on legal template pages (Lawrina Templates) and up-to-date information on US law (Lawrina Guides). In her spare time, Yevheniia takes up swimming, travels, and goes for a walk in her home city.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding the product or UX content for Lawrina, feel free to contact Yevheniia directly at y.savchenko@lawrina.org or connect with her on LinkedIn.