Legal Guide

How Long Does It Take To Get Approved For Disability?

When you cannot work and earn a living, it’s difficult to wait for a decision on a disability benefit application. Unfortunately, decisions take time.

According to the Social Security Administration, an initial decision on a disability benefits application currently takes six to eight months. However, over two-thirds of applications are denied after the initial review process. A denial means filing an appeal, which only adds to the wait time.

Using a disability lawyer to assist you through the process can improve your chances of being approved for disability benefits. This article explains the application process, the wait times, and the steps you can take to shorten the wait and improve your chance of approval.

The Social Security Disability Application Process

You have three options for applying for disability benefits through the Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs:

  • Applying in person at a local Social Security office near you.
  • Phone application by calling 1-800-772-1213. Use the TTY number 1-800-325-0778 if you are deaf or hard of hearing. Phone applications can only be completed on weekdays.
  • Online application by going to the Social Security website where adults can complete and submit an application.

Save time and avoid mistakes or omissions by gathering documents and information you’ll need to complete the application for SSDI and SSI benefits before beginning the process.

Documents And Information To Gather Before Completing A Disability Application

A mistake or omission can delay the application process or even result in a denial of your claim for SSI or SSDI benefits. Gathering the information and documents you'll need before starting can ensure that you submit a complete and accurate application to qualify for disability benefits.

You need the following information to complete an application for SSI or SSDI benefits:

  • Date and place of birth, including the country where you were born, if other than the United States.
  • Permanent resident card number if you were born outside the U.S. and are not a citizen of this country.
  • Marriage and divorce information, including date and place of marriage, spouse’s name, and spouse’s date of birth. If the marriage ended in a divorce, you’ll need the date of the divorce.
  • Names and dates of birth of your children.
  • If you served in the U.S. military, you must provide the dates of service, branch, and type of duty.
  • Employment details for the current year and the past two years.

Social Security no longer pays benefits by issuing checks, so you’ll need to provide the name of the bank where you want your disability benefits to be direct deposited. You’ll also need the account number and bank routing number.

An application for SSDI or SSI benefits will ask for the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of your doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers that treated you for the medical condition causing your disability. You also need the onset date of the medical condition that affected your ability to continue to work.

How Long Does It Take For A Disability Claim Approval?

It takes six to eight months for an application to go through the initial disability review process and for a decision to be sent to you. The average wait time for an initial determination was 217 days in 2023, but the Social Security Administration reports that it increased to 225 days in 2024.

Working with a disability lawyer helps ensure that an application contains all the information the Social Security Administration needs by not submitting it until it has been carefully reviewed for accuracy and completeness. This can avoid unnecessary delays caused by examiners at the Disability Determination Services having to request additional information or documentation.

A disability lawyer also works with your medical providers to ensure they comply with DDS requests for medical records or other documentation to support your claim. This not only avoids delays, but it may avoid a denial of the application.

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