A-First level of application for SSDIB does not grant but about 25% of the applicants these benefits. That is at least 6 months process. There is a lot of paperwork that needs to be exchanged between you and the SS Administration. If you receive an unfavorable decision then you must file for a reconsideration that is another 6 months wait. Only about 4% win at the reconsideration level.
If you lose at this level, do not be discouraged, file an Appeal that will be heard in front of an Administrative Law Judge. It will take about one year in the Metro Atlanta area for your case to case to reach the top of the heap and be heard in front of an Administrative Law Judge. Whatever date your case is set for your case to be heard, that will be the date. There are virtually no postponements allowed. You and your lawyer need to be absolutely ready well before the hearing date. All medical evidence needs to be submitted no later than 5 days before the hearing date. It will be then assigned a pre-hearing exhibit number. The pre-hearing memorandum or legal brief needs to be submitted as well, at a minimum 5 days before the hearing.
Generally speaking you will not need your spouse, relative, pastor to appear as your witness. The best witness will be the medical records, and the best testimony for your claim will be found in the medical records.
At the conclusion of the hearing the judge will wish you good luck but will probably not tell you whether you won your case or not. There are ways your lawyer may be able to tell, based upon the vocational evaluator's testimony. If you receive a fully favorable award then 60 days later you will receive a Notice of Award and almost immediately thereafter you will receive a lump sum back payment and your lawyer will receive his/her fee of 25% that will be sent directly to his/her office.
If your lawyer has spent money in your case obtaining medical records, FCE's, consultation, examinations, now will be the best time to reimburse your lawyer for these expenses. Best time to pay is right at the time you receive your back pay. The lawyer will appreciate you reimbursing him/her for the expenses used to set you your case in the best light possible to help you win the SSDIB.