The Relationship between Social Security Disability Insurance Wait Times and Applications
For Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the waiting time between filing an application and receiving an initial determination can last several months, while a final determination via the appeals process commonly takes an additional year or more. We use information on SSDI application outcomes at the county level for 1996-2014 to document the variation in wait times, its correlation with socioeconomic characteristics, and how wait times relate to application behavior. We find large differences in both the average and median wait times across counties and over time, and meaningful differences by sex, age, and Census region. Higher wait times in one year is associated with lower applications the following year, suggesting that there may be some feedback effects between the speed of recent applications and individuals’ decisions about whether to apply for SSDI.