Disability Insurance Appeal Backlog Time Skyrockets

Q: How long does it take to get a federal disability benefits appeal hearing date?

Getting it right the first time you are applying for Social Security disability benefits is critical because the appeals process for denials is excruciatingly-long and it’s getting longer each day.

The federal government offers two different disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). Both require that an applicant meet the government’s definition of “disabled”, but the similarities end there.

To oversimplify a very complex topic, SSDI is a work-based program available to certain applicants who, in addition to meeting other qualifying criteria, previously worked and paid into the Social Security system through their payroll taxes for the requisite number of work years and work credits. In contrast, SSI awards do not require any work history, but are need-based and only available to those who, in addition to meeting other qualifying criteria, have extremely limited economic situations. Sometimes applicants may be eligible for both benefits programs, so seeking advice from an Arizona disability insurance attorney on how to apply is advisable.

Not only can a social security disability attorney counsel you regarding which benefits to apply for, they know how to put the strongest and most complete initial application together– which may increase the chances of it being granted the first time around.

Why is it important to have the initial application granted?

Here are some frightening statistics to answer that question:

  • initial application decisions take an average of 4 months
  • only 1/3 of initial applications are approved
  • reconsideration decisions take another 4 months
  • only 12% of reconsiderations are approved
  • only 46% of people who apply for a hearing win.

And the most sobering statistic of all: “from the date of their initial application, many people end up waiting for 2 1/2 years or longer for a judge’s decision.”

That means that those who have been denied twice are then waiting about 596 days or 19 1/2 months for a hearing with a judge–among a backlog of cases estimated at 1.1 million. And while retroactive benefits are available to those who do ultimately win on appeal, that’s hardly a consolation to those disabled applicants struggling financially for so long.

Can you afford to wait that long?

Not only is the physical or mental disability hard on the applicant and their family, but the financial burden caused by the wait for benefits is unbearable for most. By hiring a skilled attorney whose practice is devoted exclusively to helping people secure federal disability benefits, an applicant can increase the likelihood of a successful initial application and expedite the application and/or appeals process. They also unburden themselves from the complicated paperwork and red tape of the process.

If you or a loved one is applying for Social Security disability benefits or is appealing a denial of your initial application, the Social Security disability experts at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us for a free consultation.

From our offices in Phoenix, Tucson, and Tempe, we represent disabled clients and veterans throughout Arizona.