- Application (4-6 months)
- Reconsideration (2-4 months)*
- Hearing with Administrative Law Judge (12 to 18 months)
- Appeals Council (1-2 years)
- Federal Court (2-3 years)
If your claim is denied at any of the above levels, you have 60 days in which to appeal to the next step. Processing time varies from state to state, and the above estimates are based on the current Social Security Administration backlog. Rarely will processing times be less than stated above, and in some cases they may be longer.
* The Reconsideration step has been eliminated in the following 10 states: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, parts of California and parts of New York. Social Security has eliminated the Reconsideration step in an effort to make the decision process better. In these states, if your claim is denied at Application, you would skip the Reconsideration step and go directly to the Hearing level. The application denial notice tells you what the next appeal step will be.