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Applied a year ago, when will I hear from the SSA?

We frequently get questions on our Social Security Disability blog about the length of time it will take to process a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) application. Claimants generally do not realize that it can take weeks to hear back from the SSA. But how long is too long? When does a delayed response become something you, the claimant, should be worried about?

Recently a claimant commented that they had applied for SSDI over a year ago and they still had not heard from the SSA. They were wondering if they should be concerned. The answer to this question will depend on whether you have just submitted your SSDI or SSI application or if your application is further along in the appeal’s process, for instance at the hearing level. If your case is at the hearing level it is not unusual for it to take a year to get a hearing date and the SSA may not communicate much with you until they have your hearing date. At the initial application level, however, there is a different answer.

Initial Application – How long until I hear from the SSA?

Claimants who do not meet the nonmedical criteria of either the SSDI or SSI program can expect to hear from the SSA immediately (within a week or two). For instance, if you do not have enough work credits for SSDI, if your income and resource level is too high for SSI, or if your condition is not expected to last for 12 continuous months the regional SSA office will automatically deny your SSI or SSDI claim and send you a denial letter.

The evaluation time can grow exponentially if you meet the nonmedical criteria and the SSA sends your application to the appropriate disability determination services office in your state for a disability determination. Here the wait time can be 30 to 90 days or longer. Some claimants may wait for months if their doctors do not send their medical records or if they have to see a consultative examiner.

Let’s consider the question from our forum. If you have submitted your application and you do not hear from the SSA for one year there are several reasons you may not have not heard from them. The first reason is that they did not receive your application. If you believe this could be the reason you should contact them right away at 1-800-772-1213 and find out if they have your application.

The second most common reason that you may not have heard from them is that you have moved and they sent you a communication (acceptance or denial letter) and you simply did not receive it. Either way it is time to contact them and find out the status of your case. Most likely your best recourse for both of the reasons identified above is to file a new application.


As I have mentioned in other blogs the best course of action with the Social Security Administration is to take a proactive approach. Claimants who simply sit back and wait for the SSA to do all of the work will have a hard time getting approved for SSI or SSDI.
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