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How Long Does A Disability Appeal Take with a Lawyer? Insights and Timelines

Last updated: October 10, 2023

A disability appeal might be an alien concept to many. What is it? And why would one need legal representation for it? Let's break it down in simpler terms. A disability appeal is a request made to the Social Security Administration (SSA) when one's initial application for disability benefits has been denied. It's a chance to have your case reviewed, allowing the possibility of a different outcome.

The Importance of Legal Representation

Why get a lawyer, you ask? The process is notoriously complex and time-consuming. Having a skilled and knowledgeable lawyer on your side can significantly increase your chances of success.

Understanding the statistics can provide a broader perspective on the appeal process and its outcomes. Here are a few figures that can help you grasp the magnitude of disability cases:

  • 70% of Initial Disability Claims are Denied: The SSA reports that about 70% of initial disability claims are denied. This makes the appeal process a common path for many applicants.

  • 45% Approval Rate at the Hearing Level: Statistics from the SSA show that the approval rate at the hearing level is approximately 45%, underscoring the importance of legal representation.

  • Average Wait Time is 18 Months: On average, applicants wait about 18 months for a hearing date from the time they request it.

  • Majority of Cases are Resolved at the Hearing Level: Most cases, about 63% according to recent statistics, are resolved at the hearing level.

  • Successful Appeals Receive Back Pay: Successful appeals not only grant ongoing benefits but also back pay from the date of disability onset. This often amounts to a significant sum.

Choosing the Right Disability Lawyer

Selecting the right disability lawyer can be the turning point in your appeal process. They will guide you, support you, and, most importantly, fight for your rights. A competent lawyer knows all the legal terminologies, rules, and the appeal process.

How Long Does a Disability Appeal Take with a Lawyer?

Now, onto the main question, "How long does a disability appeal take with a lawyer?" It's important to note that the timeline can vary greatly from case to case. Here's a rough sketch of what you might expect:

Initial Stage: Preparing for the Appeal 

  • Gathering Evidence: During this stage, your lawyer will help gather all the necessary medical records, expert opinions, and other relevant documents. This may take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

  • Filing the Appeal: Once all the evidence has been compiled, your lawyer will file the appeal. This step is generally completed within a few days to a week.

Middle Stage: The Waiting Period

  • Scheduling a Hearing: After the appeal has been filed, there is typically a waiting period to schedule a hearing with a judge. This period can be a few months to over a year, depending on the backlog of cases.

Final Stage: Potential Outcomes of the Appeal

  • Approval: In a perfect scenario, your appeal will be approved, and you'll start receiving disability benefits. This is the ultimate goal of the appeal process.

  • Denial: Unfortunately, not all appeals are successful. If your appeal is denied, your lawyer can help explore other legal options.

  • Partial Approval: Sometimes, the judge may decide on a partial approval. While your appeal is not fully approved, you might be eligible for some benefits.


1. What is the average time taken for a disability appeal?

The time can greatly vary, but on average, it can take anywhere between a few months to over a year.

2. Do I need a lawyer for my disability appeal?

While not mandatory, having a lawyer can significantly increase your chances of success due to your familiarity with the process and legal expertise.

3. What is the role of a disability lawyer in the appeal process?

A disability lawyer guides you through the appeal process, helps gather evidence, files the appeal, and represents you at the hearing.

4. What happens if my disability appeal is denied?

If your appeal is denied, your lawyer can help explore other legal options, including filing a new appeal or lawsuit.

5. What does partial approval mean in a disability appeal?

Partial approval means that while your appeal was not fully approved, you may still be eligible for some disability benefits.


Navigating through the appeal process can be an arduous journey. But remember, a good lawyer can make all the difference. They can guide you through the process, provide support, and significantly improve the chances of a favorable outcome. Patience is crucial as the process can take time, but with a good lawyer, the road can be a little less bumpy.

Read more about the process of applying for disability in Georgia from our blogs at Disability Help today.

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Victor Traylor
An expert to the field of Social Justice, Victor formed Disability Help to connect ideas and expertise from the US with rising global cultural leadership, building networks, fostering collaboration, long-term results, mutual benefit, and more extensive international perception.
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