The answer to this question depends upon many factors. Essentially, once your initial application for benefits is filed, the SSA should send you their initial decision within 60-180 days. If your application is denied, then an appeal called a request for consideration must be filed within 60 days (plus 5 for mailing) from the date on the denial letter. Once this appeal is filed, you should hear back within another 30-90 days. If you are denied at this second level, then a second appeal called a request for hearing must be filed. The same time frames apply to get this appeal filed. You have 60 days (plus 5 for mailing) from the date on the second denial. Once that document is filed, you wait for a hearing. The wait period is extremely long and varies from approximately 6 months to 18 months. So, it is not uncommon for people to wait a total of two or three years to get through the process, if they win at the hearing level. If you lose at the hearing level, you may file additional appeals from there; first to the Appeals Council and then to the Federal district court. The timeframes for these upper level appeals can easily span years.