The Social Security Disability benefits process can take a long time. It can take even longer if you have to appeal and fight for the benefits that you deserve. In those cases, it can take years to get benefits. Here, we will walk through the appeal process and answer the question—how long does it take for a Social Security remand hearing from a federal court?

The Social Security Disability Benefits Appeal Process

In general, it will take 12 to 18 months for the federal court to issue a decision and remand it to the SSA. However, there is a long and complicated process that must occur before you get that far.

The Initial Application

When you initially apply for Social Security benefits, the SSA will review your application, and your local SSA office will issue a decision about benefits. Their decision will come in the mail, and it will set out whether they think you qualify for benefits based on the application materials that you submitted.

If the decision that your local office reached is unfavorable, you have the right to appeal it. You must submit a notice of appeal within 60 days of receiving the decision. If you miss this deadline, you likely forfeit your right to appeal the decision at all.

Once you submit your appeal information, a separate review process occurs.

Reconsideration

If your application was denied solely because you may not qualify as disabled for medical reasons, you could request a reconsideration. There are two types of reconsideration. The first type is a reconsideration of an original claim, but you can also have a reconsideration of a continuing disability claim too.

When you request a reconsideration of your original claim, it occurs at the Disability Determination Services level at your local SSA office. They bring in a medical consultant and examiner who were not involved in the initial decision to deny benefits. These individuals review your file, and they may examine you as well.

You also have the option to request a non-medical reconsideration. You will use this process if the reason for your denial has nothing to do with your medical condition. You might have been denied because of:

  • Income or resources that are too high to meet income qualifications
  • Overpayments
  • Living arrangements

In general, only about 10 to 15% of reconsideration claims will receive benefits after this process. If your application is denied again, then you move on to the next step in the process.

Administrative Law Judge Hearing

The next step in the appeals process is to request a hearing before an administrative law judge. You must make this request within 60 days of your denial of reconsideration.

An administrative law judge (ALJ) will review your case and further determine after a hearing. The hearing will take place at a location that is as close to your home as possible but generally no more than 75 miles from where you live. In some situations, your hearing might be held via video.

You should receive a confirmation package from SSA after you make your request to be heard in front of a judge. That package will include a general overview of the hearing process. Your SSD lawyer will help you work through this information and prepare for your hearing.

Surprisingly, roughly half of all cases that are appealed to an administrative law judge will start receiving benefits because of the ALJ’s decision. Having a good Social Security disability lawyer will certainly increase your chance of getting a good result.

The Appeals Council

If you get an unfavorable ruling from the administrative law judge, the next step is to seek a review from the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council will review the ALJ’s decision to determine whether that decision was in line with Social Security law and applicable regulations.

The Appeals Council can decide your case outright, or it can return it to the ALJ for further review and decision. In general, the Appeals Council will defer to the ALJ unless there was something very wrong with the decision—such as a misstatement of facts or evidence or the hearing itself was not conducted in a way that was fair to you.

Federal Court Review

Finally, if you go through the full review process with the SSA and still disagree with their decision, you can look to the federal court to review your case. This process involves actually filing a suit in federal district court.

A federal judge will review your case after all of your material is fully submitted. The judge will look at both legal and factual issues as part of their review. Once they have made their decision, they might remand the case back to the ALJ for further review and decision. Again, that timeline can be up to 18 months.

If you did not have an attorney through the SSA appeal process, you certainly need one in federal court. An experienced SSDI lawyer will be able to help you with this process. Contact the Social Security disability lawyer team at NYDisability to learn more about how we can help.