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Navigating the Maze of Social Security Disability Wait Times

Oct. 25, 2023


Navigating the complex world of Social Security Disability benefits can be an arduous journey, and one of the biggest hurdles many applicants face is the lengthy wait time for a decision. This blog aims to shed light on the various factors contributing to these wait times, the impact on applicants, and what you can do to minimize the delays in securing the assistance you may desperately need.

Understanding the Wait Times

The wait times for Social Security Disability benefits have long been a concern for applicants and advocates. These wait times can vary widely from case to case and can be influenced by several factors. Some of the key contributors to the extended wait times include:

  1. Initial Application Processing: The process begins when you submit your initial application. The Social Security Administration (SSA) must review your medical and non-medical eligibility for disability benefits. This initial review takes approximately 6-8 months currently.  This wait time has increased drastically since 2020.  From 2008 through February 2020, the wait time for an initial decision was 100 and 120 days.  By May 2023, the average wait time was up to 223 days (7.43 months) for an initial decision.

  2. Reconsideration and Appeals: If your initial application is denied, you have the option to request a reconsideration. If that too is denied, you can then appeal the decision and go to a hearing. Each step involves additional reviews and, subsequently, more wait time.  The wait time for a Request for Reconsideration is approximately 4-6 months and the wait time to get a hearing is approximately 4-6 months..  This means your claim could potentially take a year and a half to two years to get to the hearing level which is where the vast majority of these cases are won.

  3. Medical Documentation: Gathering and submitting all the necessary medical documentation is crucial, as incomplete or inaccurate information can prolong the review process. Collecting detailed medical records can be time-consuming and can contribute to delays.  The Grech Law Firm has a dedicated staff member whose sole job is to obtain medical records for our clients.  This is one of the biggest ways we can ensure your claim is decided in the most timely manner. 

  4. Backlog: The SSA often faces a backlog of disability applications. This backlog can vary by region and may be affected by staffing levels, budgetary constraints, and other administrative factors.  Social Security has indicated that these backlogs have increased drastically since the COVID pandemic.

Impacts of Prolonged Wait Times

Extended wait times for Social Security Disability benefits can have significant consequences for applicants:

  1. Financial Hardship: Many applicants are unable to work due to their disabilities, so they rely on these benefits for financial support. Prolonged delays can lead to financial hardship, making it difficult to meet basic needs like housing, food, and healthcare.

  2. Health Deterioration: The stress and anxiety associated with the wait can exacerbate health issues, leading to a deterioration of an applicant's condition. This can further complicate their case and result in a greater need for assistance.

  3. Uncertainty: Waiting for a decision creates uncertainty for applicants and their families, making it difficult to plan for the future.  At Grech Law Firm, we can help guide you through this difficult and trying time by filing your Social Security Disability or SSI application and helping you navigate this complex and time-consuming process. 

Minimizing Wait Times

While you may not be able to entirely eliminate the wait times for Social Security Disability benefits, there are several strategies to help expedite the process:

  1. Apply Early: Start your application as soon as you become disabled and anticipate needing disability benefits. The sooner you apply, the sooner the review process can begin.  Call the Grech Law Firm and we will be happy to file the application for you. 

  2. Accurate Documentation: The Grech Law Firm will also ensure your application is complete and supported by thorough medical records. Providing clear, concise information can help expedite the decision-making process.

  3. Seek Legal Advice: Consult with an attorney or advocate experienced in Social Security Disability cases like the Grech Law Firm. We can help you navigate the process, present your case effectively, and potentially reduce the chances of unnecessary delays.

  4. Consider Other Support: While waiting for a decision, explore other forms of financial assistance, such as state disability benefits, Medicaid, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), if eligible.


Navigating Social Security Disability wait times can be a challenging and frustrating process. While the system is designed to support those with disabilities, the delays can have significant impacts on applicants. By understanding the factors contributing to wait times and taking proactive steps to minimize them, you can improve your chances of securing the benefits you need. The staff at the Grech Law Firm are experts in making the Social Security Disability process as smooth and fast as it can possibly be.