Ask anyone who has applied for Social Security Disability benefits (either disability insurance benefits or supplemental security income). They may tell you about a lengthy and frustrating process that required completing an in-depth application, filling out information forms for the Disability Determination Bureau (DDB), attending one or more examinations by a physician or psychologist hired by the Social Security Administration (SSA), keeping the DDB updated about new treatment appointments, emergency department visits and hospitalizations and then just waiting on a determination. Across the county, initial applications are approved about 30% of the time.
The processing times for initial applications increased significantly during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, SSA offices were closed to the public (starting in March 2020). SSA and DDB staff were working from remote locations. Beginning around March 2022, SSA offices started to reopen. Now processing times are much improved. Depending on the medical complexity of the case, it normally takes, at a minimum, 90 to 120 days for SSA to reach a determination on an initial application. (Of course, this is an estimate. The processing time varies in each case.) Applications which are denied will have an opportunity to appeal the denial.
The importance of being thorough and on time