If you don’t agree with the decision made by the Social Security Administration regarding your claim for disability benefits, you can submit an appeal. Most of the time, that will involve a hearing in front of an administrative law judge, or ALJ. However, this can be a long and tedious process that involves several steps. On average, cases heard by ALJs in October 2021 took slightly less than nine months to reach the hearing stage, starting from the date the hearing application was filed, according to data from the SSA. This is a national estimate. If you’re a New Jersey resident, here are some important things to know about your SSD waiting time.
What is the first step?
In most cases, you’ll have to ask for a reconsideration by New Jersey’s Disability Determination Services. This is the same office that processed your first application. A different medical team and disability examiner will take a second look at your SSD claim and any additional evidence you have, such as recent medical exams or treatments. You’ll have 60 days after the first denial to file for a reconsideration. In the past few years, processing times for disability reconsideration took an average of three to four months.
If the reconsideration is not in your favor, as occurs in many instances, you have 60 days to ask for a hearing before an ALJ. The judge will review the details of your SSD case and hear your testimony as well as the testimonies of expert witnesses.
What happens after you file for a hearing?
When you file for a hearing, the wait time can vary based on where you live and the details of your case. SSA data indicates that the average wait time can be between 5 and 16 months.
The SSA has to send you a written notice at least 75 days before your scheduled hearing date. If you waive this notice, your wait time may be reduced, but you’ll still be required to submit any evidence pertaining to your claim before your hearing according to SSA rules.