People often ask, "How long does it take Social Security to decide if I'm disabled?"

Answer: The normal processing times are approximately as follows, although actual processing times may be either shorter or longer in your case:

Initial Application Level: 90-120 days

Reconsideration Level: 90-120 days

Hearing Level: 10 to 24 months 

Appeals Council Level: 3 to 24 months

And if you have to appeal to federal court:

District Court Level: 12 to 24 months

Circuit (Appeals) Court Level: 12 to 24 months

Supreme Court Level: 2 years (but no disability claimant has ever won benefits at this level).

People who contact Wilborn Law Office, P.C., for representation typically do so for an appeal to the United States District Court for the District of Oregon.  At that level of appeal, the approximate timeline is as follows:

Day 1: Court case is filed.
Day 30: Court issues summons forms for service of the lawsuit.
Day 60-120: Court orders SSA to provide the file within 120 days.
Day 180-240: Attorney receives the file from Social Security.
Day 240-300: Attorney completes the claimant's opening arguments.
Day 300-360: The government completes their arguments in response.
Day 330-390: Attorney completes the claimant's reply arguments.

Somewhere in here, someone usually gets an extension of time (often 30 days or more).  It takes about a year to complete all the arguments. It may take a little longer; it usually doesn't take less than a year.

After the arguments are completed, it often takes 2-6 more months for
the court to issue a decision. In all, a court appeal generally takes from
14 to 24 months from the time it is filed to the time the judge issues a
decision.  During this time, there typically is very little contact between the attorney and the disability claimant.  The appeal is done in writing without any in-person appearances, and it is based on the record which was used at the claimant's disability hearing.  It usually is not possible to continue adding evidence once the case is at the court appeal level.