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How Long Does it Take for SSI To Be Approved?

May 11, 2021

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available from the government for people facing financial hardship due to a medical disability. To be eligible for SSI benefits, you must have a disability and very limited financial assets. In Colorado, the average SSI application takes about 73 days to be processed. If your case involves one or more appeals, this can add a few months to the process. Many different factors, however, can shorten or extend the time it takes for SSI benefits to be approved.

How Long Does it Take for SSI To Be Approved?

Supplemental Security Income Timeline

Start your case by filing an SSI application with your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office. Apply for Social Security benefits as soon as possible after being diagnosed with a disability, as the SSA generally will not pay SSI benefits for the period of time where you had a disability and could not work but did not apply for Supplemental Security Income.

Your field office will process your initial application and send it to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office. This office will determine whether or not you are medically disabled by analyzing the medical evidence you submitted. Then, the application will return to the field SSA office to continue processing.

The field office will finish processing the paperwork if the DDS determines that you have a disability. Then, it will calculate the appropriate benefit amount and start paying you. This entire process takes an average of three to five months from the date you submitted your SSI application. If the SSA or DDS denies the application, however, the appeals process can extend the timeline.

Once the SSA approves your SSI benefits, expect to start getting paid at the beginning of the next full month. If you receive approval on May 23, for example, expect your SSI benefits to begin on June 1. It may take one or two months, however, for the payment processing center to issue your actual check. This can result in a lump sum payment covering any previous SSI benefits owed to you but not paid.

Can You Speed Up the Process?

Although it takes about 73 days on average to process an SSI case, no two SSI applications are exactly alike. Your acceptance or rejection notice may come sooner or later than this average timeline. Factors that could slow down your application include missing, incomplete or inaccurate information on the initial paperwork; insufficient medical evidence; clerical errors; and having to file an appeal for a denied application.

Only about one-third of all Supplemental Security Income applications received by the SSA are approved the first time around. The vast majority of applications are initially denied. If you receive a rejection, do not assume this means you are ineligible for benefits. Instead, talk to an attorney about filing an appeal. Hiring an SSI attorney from the beginning of your case can improve your chances of acceptance, as well as enable you to expedite the claims process as much as possible.

How a Lawyer Can Help With an SSI Claim

A lawyer with experience submitting SSI benefits applications and appeals can help with your case by filling out complicated paperwork for you, as well as helping you obtain medical records, letters from your doctor and employer, and other evidence to support your application. Your lawyer can avoid common mistakes made on claims paperwork, reducing the odds of the SSA rejecting the initial claim.

If the Social Security Administration does reject your initial application, your lawyer can immediately begin the appeals process to shorten the timeline as much as possible. With a lawyer advocating for your rights, the SSA will be more likely to approve SSI benefits the first time around and process your application in an efficient manner.

Learn more about Supplemental Security Income benefits, applications and appeals by consulting with an experienced disability attorney in Denver, Colorado today.