The waiting time for every case in Massachusetts is different. After filing your application (Initial Level) it will take four to six months for a decision. If awarded, your benefits will commence in the next 30 to 60 days. If denied, an appeal (Reconsideration) will be required. It will take another four to six months for a decision, so patience is required. Finally, if this decision is unfavorable to you it will be necessary to appeal to an Administrative Law Judge for a hearing. Currently, it is taking around 12 months to get before a judge. The good news is that, is successful, Social Security will pay the vast majority of this waiting time (Retroactive benefits) in your first check once awarded.
For the first step of action, the initial application process can take anywhere from 3 to 5months to complete. Once it is complete, the waiting time period depends on a few factors. Once again, it depends on how complete the application is, how fast health care providers respond to medical record requests, and the length of time it takes the SSA to receive any additional information needed in order to make a proper decision.
About 1/3 of applicants are approved at the initial process. That being said, more than 60% of first-time disability applicants are denied at first.
Request for Reconsideration
Next, comes the ‘Request for Reconsideration.’ This is the process you can go through if your initial application was denied. You have 60 days from the date that is shown on the top of your denial paper. Within this process, a different examiner who has no information regarding your claim from the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office will review your application.
Moreover, this process usually takes 3 to 5 months from the beginning until the end but it is not unlikely if the full process reaches 6 to 8 months in length.
Hearing for Appeal
If your request for reconsideration is turned down, you have 60 days from the date it was denied to request an appeal. The appeal hearing will take place in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This is the longest wait of the entire process.
The amount of time spent waiting is different for each state (refer here to see where your residing state falls in regards to the average processing time). Fortunately, an individual’s chances of being approved increase drastically at the appeal hearing stage.
Timeframe for the Entire Process
As stated above, no case is the same. Those who suffer from severe, life-threatening diseases may be approved quicker than others. Individuals who meet a Blue Book listing for a condition may be approved within a few months. Generally speaking, the greater amount of people applying for disability will stand by for a concluding determination anywhere from 3 months up to two years.
Massachusetts has 30 administrative law judges (ALJ) who work in 3 different hearing offices throughout the state. The 3 hearing offices are in Boston, Lawrence, and Springfield. Boston has 15 judges, Lawrence has 8 judges, and Springfield has 7. The average processing days for each location are as follows:
- Boston: 347 days
- Lawrence: 368 days
- Springfield: 354 days
In conclusion, the processing time for every case is different. There are several factors that go into the total processing time. Some examples are the types of medical conditions, the documentation provided, and whether or not you were turned down and would like to file an appeal.
This process can be lengthy and trying. An experienced Social Security lawyer from Keches Law Group can assist you and answer any questions you may have.