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Meeting the Duration Requirement

Your impairment must have lasted or be expected to last for a continuous period of 12 months for you to qualify for benefits. You don’t have to wait until you have been unable to work for a whole year to apply for benefits. The SSA will presume that your impairment will meet the duration requirement if it’s the type of condition that obviously will last a long time, for example a serious spinal cord injury.

Meeting the Severity Requirement

To qualify for disability benefits, you must have a “medically determinable impairment” and your impairment must be “severe.” The purpose of this requirement is to eliminate frivolous cases. These are cases in which the claimant’s condition interferes with the ability to work only slightly, or in which the claimant does not have a genuine medical problem.

How Long Will I Wait For a Decision on My Disability Appeal?

The waiting time for claimants to receive a final decision on their disability appeals is reported below for the Northern California and Reno Offices of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). (Waiting time is measured as the number of days from the date an appeal is received by the hearing office to the date a favorable, denial or dismissal decision is issued.

What to do when a claimant dies before the SSA reaches a decision in a disability claim.

Although the Social Security Administration has had some success in reducing their response times for disability applications and appeals, waiting periods remain burdensome for individuals suffering from disabling illnesses and injuries, particularly in instances where an individual must go through the disability hearing process after being denied on the initial and Reconsideration stages.

Average Waiting Time to Get a Hearing Decision at Local SSA Hearing Offices

The SSA has recently published national statistics on the time a claimant must wait for the final hearing decision on disability appeals. Below are the numbers for the Northern California and Reno Offices of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). The statistics measure the waiting time as the number of days from the date an appeal is received by the hearing office to the date a favorable, denial or dismissal decision is issued.