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How Long Does it Take to Get Disability?

Long-Term Disability Explained: How Long Does it Take to Get Disability?


If you have recently applied for long-term disability, you may be wondering how long it takes to get your award.

Briefly,  your long-term disability insurance company has up to 45 days to decide after they receive your initial, completed application.  They may extend this an additional 30 days if they have a reason to need to do so, beyond the control of the plan.  After extending the first 30 days, they can request yet another 30 days if the plan administrator determines that they are still unable to make a decision.  They do have to provide you with an explanation of the extensions. With the extensions, it can take up to ~105 days to receive your initial decision.  Here is a more in-depth explanation of the timeline for long-term disability claims.

Here are factors that can affect various aspects of these timelines.  If you want your long-term disability claim to be processed as fast as possible, keep these in mind.


Your Overall Health

If you have a lot of health issues, your insurance company will need to request your medical records.  The more issues you have, the more medical records they will have to request.  Each of these records could take several weeks apiece.

Your insurance provider may also require you to have additional testing done or have an independent medical examination (IME) or functional capacity examination (FCE) to evaluate the impact of your disability.  If your insurance provider has set you up for either of these examinations, you need to talk to an attorney today.  These exams will not prove your claim to the insurance company, in many cases, they use the results to prove why you are not as disabled as you are.


Your Follow Through To Requests For Information

If your application is missing any key information this can delay your decision or even cause you to be denied.  It can also be delayed by you not adhering to the insurance companies deadlines or not complying with their requests for any additional information.  At a very minimum, delaying your responses to questions and deadlines puts your entire claim at risk.  If you have challenges staying on top of the various aspects of your claim, reach out for help.

How A Disability Attorney Helps Your LTD Claim Appeal


Your Doctor Can Help Your Long-Term Disability Claim 

Your doctor can play a big role in how long it takes to get your initial decision. Your insurance company will want their forms filled out by your doctor.  The amount of time it takes your doctor to do this can affect the extension timelines.  Timely responses by your doctors will minimize the necessity of extending decisions.


Elimination Period For LTD Claims

Most insurance companies have a waiting period between the time you become ill or injured and when you can start receiving long-term disability benefits.  The period can be as little as 16 weeks or as long as one year.  If your company offers short-term disability insurance, the waiting period will be the maximum length of your short-term disability.  This is usually around 26 weeks.


Denial – Adverse Benefits Determination

If you are denied your original claim, you will need to appeal.  This process itself can take up to 180 days from start to finish on your side and another 45 days for the insurance company to respond to your appeal of the denial.  They can also request another 45 days if they are not able to make a decision.


Conclusion – How Long it Will Really Take

With all of these factors involved, there is no one answer fits all for “How long does it take to get long-term disability?”.

It depends on your case and how long it takes for your insurance company to make a decision.  As well as if you need to appeal a denial.

You can expect the initial application to take up to a year for a decision and the appeal process to take up to almost nine months for the appeal (some plans will allow for a second appeal but not all).

Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions during any stage of your claim or appeal.



About the Author
In 1998, Chris obtained his law degree from the University of Oregon, and in 1999, he accepted his first job as an attorney with the Washington State Attorney General’s Office. In 2000, Chris entered a private litigation practice in Vancouver, Washington. In private practice, Chris litigated a variety matters including administrative, criminal, real estate, construction, business, and insurance.