The answer is dependent on a number of factors. Most significantly, the length of the process depends on what level an individual is at when they receive their final determination. Additionally, the workload and backlog of the federal office processing their claim can be a factor. It is important to note that the time frames reflected below are averages, and for that reason, the variance on either side would be expected.
Data provided by Social Security indicates that for the fiscal year 2017, the average time from the date a claim was filed to the date payment was made, or denial notice issued, was 111 days.
Claimants who filed a Request for Reconsideration reportedly averaged an additional 101 days for a determination to be made on their appeal.
The time it takes for claimants that appeal to the hearing level varies significantly across the country. Social Security’s report for February of 2018 reveals that, depending on the hearing office, it can take anywhere from 9-25 months from the date a hearing is requested until the date a hearing is scheduled. While there are no regulations defining a period in which SSA must issue a decision after the hearing is held, in our experience, it generally averages 2-3 months.
The final administrative appeal is a request for review of a hearing decision and is processed by the Appeals Council. Social Security reported that in 2016, the average processing time for cases at this level was 364 days.