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The social security invalidity benefit programme in Zimbabwe is organized through a network of regional offices. There are no standard guidelines for assessing invalidity.We tested whether cause of invalidity and place of residence influenced the rate of processing of invalidity benefit claims.We carried out a retrospective cohort study involving 523 medically unadjudicated and a 25% (354/1431) random sample of medically adjudicated invalidity benefit claims at the Central Benefits Office of the National Social Security Authority in Zimbabwe. The outcome for the study was time from certification of invalidity to conclusion of medical adjudication of invalidity benefit claims.Compared with tuberculosis, HIV disease increased the rate of progress to final medical adjudication 2.6-fold, musculoskeletal diseases 1.9-fold, physical injuries 1.7-fold and chronic diseases 1.8-fold after adjusting for place of residence, industrial sector, gender and age. Compared with residing in Harare, residing in Chinhoyi, Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare regions reduced the rate of progress to final medical adjudication by 62, 69, 51 and 56%, respectively, after adjusting for cause of invalidity, industrial sector, gender and age. Compared with invalidity benefit claims from the services sector, those from the mining sector experienced a 45% reduction in rate of progress to final medical adjudication after adjusting for cause of invalidity, place of residence, gender and age.Cause of invalidity, place of residence and industrial sector had significant influences on the rate of progress to final medical adjudication of invalidity benefit claims.