How long can I expect to wait until my Social Security benefits are approved?

Social security is the major source of income for many older adults. According to data from the Social Security Administration, 9 out of 19 people aged 65 or older receive Social Security benefits, as of December 31, 2020. So if you or your loved one has applied for benefits, it is understandable that you might be concerned about how long it would take for the SSA to approve the application.

Typically, it takes 3 to 5 months to receive a decision from the SSA. However, this is just an estimate — the exact time will depend on several factors, such as the time it takes to obtain your medical records or any other evidence the SSA requires to decide.

More answers to commonly asked questions

The SSA considers several factors when determining eligibility for benefits, mostly the work credits you accumulated during your working years. It is important to note that this system, referred to as the “Average Indexed Monthly Earnings,” constantly changes.

For example, as of 2021, you will earn one credit, up to a maximum of four a year, for every $1470 you earn. Here is a more detailed guide on how the AIME system works.

The amount you should pay into Social Security depends on the year and income bracket. For example, in 2022, you will be required to pay 6.2% of your wages into Social Security on up to $147,000. Your employer then contributes the other 6.2%.

Self-employed individuals pay their Social Security directly to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Specifically, they will need to pay 12.4% as social security tax. This percentage includes the initial 6.2% and an additional 6.2%, which their employer would have paid.

The benefits you may be eligible for depend on several factors. For instance, your lifetime earnings will influence the benefits you may be eligible for. That said, the SSA averages the income from your 35 highest-earning years.

If you have already accumulated 40 Social Security credits, the SSA provides an online Social Security Retirement Estimator tool you can use to estimate the benefits to expect.

No, you cannot receive benefits if you do not work. To be eligible for benefits, you must have accumulated 40 credits. Each year you work, you can accumulate a maximum of four credits. Therefore, you must have worked for at least 10 years to receive Social Security benefits.

No, they do not. For example, let's say you had 38 credits and then took a break from work. In that case, you can earn the remaining two credits if you decide to go back to work.

Since the minimum age to apply for social security retirement benefits is 62, your dependent children or spouse may be able to receive survivor benefits if you die before age 62. It is also important to note that disabled spouses may receive benefits starting at age 50.

To check your Social Security credits, head over to SSA's website and create an account. You will then have access to a statement that displays the credits you have earned throughout your work history.

Yes, you can work and receive benefits at the same time. However, the benefits you may be entitled to depend on several factors. For instance, the SSA will reduce your benefits if you are younger than the full retirement age and earn more than the yearly limits. But if you reach retirement age, the SSA will not reduce your benefits no matter how much money you earn while working.

You do not necessarily need an attorney to file for Social Security benefits. However, having an experienced Social Security benefits attorney significantly increases your chances of obtaining favorable results.

A Social Security disability attorney can help navigate the complex application process, ensuring you submit the necessary paperwork to begin receiving benefits. Because this attorney understands how Social Security law works, they can help you create the best strategy to pursue your claim. And if the SSA denies your application, the attorney can help you file an appeal.

While many law firms offer Social Security assistance for eligible individuals throughout the United States, it is important that you work with the best in this field.  

At Morgan and Morgan, we understand how complicated and frustrating it is to apply and get approved for benefits. For this reason, our attorneys are well-equipped with the resources they need to help build a strong case for you and convince the SSA that you are eligible for benefits.

Do not go through this process alone when you can have experts do all the heavy lifting for you. The best part is that you do not owe us anything unless we win. Therefore, you have nothing to lose but so much to gain by contacting Morgan and Morgan Social Security attorneys for a free case evaluation.