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The wait for a Social Security Disability hearing stretches on

For the majority of disability claimants waiting on that all-important hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ), the wait keeps going.

For many Social Security Disability (SSD) applicants, the Administrative Hearing is their last hope. Already having endured two previous denials in order to get there, claimants are waiting on a chance to present their case in person to an ALJ who has the authority to directly grant or deny their benefits. A significant number of claimants are eventually approved that way — but only after enduring a very long and arduous wait without any type of benefits at all.

While the Social Security Administration (SSA) has been trying to clean up the wait times claimants face for a while, the latest research indicates that the national wait time for a hearing is an average of 538 days — and some claimants are actually waiting much, much longer.

What can you do to reduce the chances that you’ll get caught in a similar lengthy trap yourself if you’re about to file a claim? Here are some suggestions:

  • Get representation early: Research indicates that only 17.7 percent of applicants have a representative helping them with their claim when they first file. Many simply do not understand the application process and do not understand how to provide SSA with the documentation necessary to gain approval for their claims.
  • Talk to your doctor: While you don’t need your doctor’s permission to file for disability benefits, it is helpful to have your doctor’s support. Your physician knows your condition better than anyone — and his or her documentation may ultimately guide the decision-making process.

Given the 18-month wait, you can expect for a hearing in front of an ALJ, you want to do everything in your power to get your claim approved at a lower level of review. If you’re filing for Social Security Disability benefits, take the time to research your options and talk to an attorney about your rights.