Unfortunately, it can take two years or longer for your case to get to an ALJ hearing, which is the stage of the process where applicants have the best chance of winning. (Even after a favorable ALJ decision, it may take several months before you start receiving benefits.) Further appeals, such as to the Appeals Council, or to Federal Court, extend the process much longer. This is why you should apply early. This is also why you should never miss an appeal deadline, which might cause you to have to start the process all over again.