Backlog of disability appeals leads to longer wait times

When an application for Social Security disability benefits is denied, the applicant has the right to appeal the denial by requesting a hearing before a judge. Tennessee readers may have seen a recent news report about a backlog of Social Security disability appeals. The backlog has led to a significant increase in the time an applicant must wait for a decision.

According to the news report, in fiscal year 2014 the average applicant had a wait time of 422 days between a request for hearing and a decision. In 2013, that wait time was 375 days. When fiscal year 2014 ended, there were about 970,000 open cases nationwide.

One applicant interviewed for the news story said he has been denied Social Security disability twice for a back injury he alleges prevents him from working. He is in the process of appealing the latest decision, from July 2014, and is still waiting for a hearing date.

There are several reasons for the increased wait times. Budget cuts are part of the problem. Another cause is the aging of the Baby Boomer generation. As this huge population group gets older, they are more vulnerable to injuries and illnesses that may lead to an inability to work.

While an individual applicant can’t do anything to clear up the SSA’s backlog, other causes of delay can be avoided. A mistake on the paperwork or the failure to submit the correct information can significantly delay the application process. Working with an experienced Social Security disability law firm can help an applicant get their case heard as soon as possible.

Source: KTNV, “Frustration over backlog of Social Security disability appeals,” Michael Lopardi, Dec. 9, 2014