Midwest Disability, P.A. Midwest Disability, P.A. Midwest Disability, P.A.

Disability Backlog Crosses 1 Million

It's not uncommon to hear clients complain about how long it takes for them to get benefits.

On average, it takes nearly two years to find out whether an applicant qualifies for Social Security Disability Benefits or Supplemental Security Income. If multiple appeals are necessary, it's not uncommon to occasionally see cases that take four years.

There's a simple reason for this: the Social Security Administration is currently severely backlogged with claims as they wind their way through the initial application, reconsideration, and a hearing before an administrative law judge. Some cases even go past that hearing stage before they're approved.

According to a September 2017 Associated Press article, more than 1 million Americans are now waiting for a decision on their disability applications.

And the article notes that unfortunately, sometimes a decision comes too late for applicants. Approximately 7,400 people on that waitlist are deceased, in which case family members can still seek back benefits on behalf of the individual who has passed away.

The article puts the blame on budget cuts and understaffing. SSA's annual budget is currently $12.6 billion, roughly the same as it was in 2011, despite 6 million more people now receiving benefits.

While it can take nearly two years to get a hearing before an administrative law judge now, in 2012 it took less than a year on average to get to that stage.

SSA claims that it is working to reduce the backlog, having recently hired 500 new administrative law judges and 600 support staff.

The agency is also seeking to expand a program that awards benefits for the most serious disabilities, such as particularly aggressive types of cancer.

Still, it will be months if not years before claimants see any improvement in how quickly their cases are processed.

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Midwest Disability, P.A.
408 Northdale Boulevard Northwest
Coon Rapids, MN 55448
Toll Free: 888-351-0427
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