SSA Wait Times for Disability Claim Processing Increases


If you have applied for disability benefits and are experiencing delays in a decision from the Social Security Administration (SSA), you’re not alone. Social Security wait times have increased over the past several years and have doubled since 2016. The total average processing time for 2024 so far is 225 days, compared to 110 days in 2016. This sharp increase in wait time affects everyone who applies for benefits, devastating families across the country, with 10,000 claimants dying as their applications are still processing.

What is causing these significant delays, and what can you do as an applicant to expedite the process? Here’s what you need to know.

Disability Processing Delays Due to SSA Underfunding and Staffing Shortages

Over the last decade, the number of SSA beneficiaries increased by 25% while operating budgets decreased and staffing levels hit a 25-year low at the end of the 2022 fiscal year. With the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down SSA office in-person business for two years, this resulted in a customer service crisis.

However, Social Security applicants may see shorter wait times with sufficient, sustained funding from Congress. In early January 2024, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), a labor union representing 750,000 federal and D.C. government workers, proposed that Congress provide $20 billion to the SSA to fix customer service issues. This includes raising staffer salaries, improving employee benefits, and funding adequate overtime.

Unfortunately, this ongoing issue will not be resolved overnight, and disability applicants will continue to experience significant delays in their determinations.

Can Legal Help Reduce Your Wait Time?

For your best chance at moving your Social Security Disability decision along, hiring a disability lawyer could make all the difference. According to a 2022 nonprofit study, legal help early in the disability application process could increase the chance of approval on an initial application by 23% as they avoid the appeals process, which could extend the wait time by as long as one year.

Speak with the Disability Attorneys of Michigan for Free

Record-high wait times for disability benefits are continuing to affect families across America. Fortunately, with the help of a skilled disability attorney, claimants could be approved for benefits as soon as possible. At Disability Attorneys of Michigan, we understand how frustrating these delays are for claimants. If you are applying or have applied for disability benefits and need help, speak with us for free today.

Contact us today by submitting a form online or call our office at 800-949-2900 for a free case evaluation.


I will never forget you and the hard work you did to secure my Social Security Disability benefits. Thank you!

- Christine C.