People Are Dying While Waiting for Disability Benefits Hearings

Q: Is the wait for a Social Security disability insurance benefits (“SSDI”) appeal nearly two years?

People are literally dying while waiting for a decision on their Social Security disability benefits applications.

An initial application for Social Security disability benefits can take about 8 months—a hardship in itself as most Americans’ “rainy day funds” may not last that long. Appealing a disability benefits denial is far worse.

The ever-increasing backlog of appeals awaiting a hearing by a judge has pushed the waiting time for a decision on appeal from the “unacceptable” to the “incredibly unacceptable”. So long, that people are losing their homes and even dying while waiting.

Here are some frightening statistics on the current state of the disability benefits application and appeals process:

  • an initial application for disability benefits decision can take up to eight months
  • the average processing time for an appeal is 602 days—some close to 2 years
  • 7,400 people died while waiting for their disability cases to be heard in 2016
  • about 2/3 of disability applications are initially denied
  • the average payment for disability recipients is only $1,171 per month
  • more than 1 million Americans are awaiting an appeal hearing
  • 38% of claims heard by a judge were denied in 2016.

How have things gotten to this point and what can be done to fix it?

Almost all problems with government programs are connected to a lack of funding, and the Social Security disability benefits system is no exception. Congress needs to “appropriately fund Social Security so it can hire more administrative staff and judges” to tackle the backlog and streamline the process for future applicants.

In addition, the position of Social Security Commissioner has been and continues to be unfilled for several years, leaving the program the adrift on a stormy sea without a captain. To continue the analogy, the ship is sinking and people are drowning.

Now more than ever, it’s important to give your initial Social Security disability benefits application its best shot. Hiring a Social Security disability benefits attorney to handle your initial application could be the difference between an approval and a denial. In light of the current backlog and the unacceptable waiting time for an appeal hearing, letting an experienced disability law attorney navigate the process for you may not only improve your outcome but will allow you to focus on healing rather than the stressful appeals process.

If you need help applying for disability benefits or appealing the denial of your application for benefits, the Social Security disability attorneys at Roeschke Law, LLC can help you. There’s no fee unless we win your case, so contact us today for a free consultation.

From our offices in Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson, we represent disabled individuals in all Arizona cities and counties.