There are millions of people in the United States, including in Missouri, who are recipients of social security disability benefits. At the same time, there are many others who have applied for benefits and are waiting to hear from the Social Security Administration regarding their request for SSD benefits. A recent news story is sure to draw the attention of such applicants.
According to reports, as many as 990,399 applications for SSD benefits are pending with the Social Security Administration as the decision to grant or reject the request for benefits is being considered. The backlog is in the department of the SSA, which is responsible for hearing appeals based on previous denials of SSD benefits. The department is composed of 1,445 social security judges, which makes it larger than the entire federal court system in the United States.
Sadly, the judges at that office have to deal with archaic rules and regulations, which, on one hand, mentions professions such as telegram messengers and animal-drawn carriages and on the other, does not mention the Internet at all. The list of jobs was last updated in 1991 and the lack of rules for newer professions makes it difficult for judges to determine disability.
The SSA says that there are several reasons for the backlogs, which are beyond their control. First, there was a surge in the number of applications from now-aging baby boomers and people who lost their jobs due to the recent economic depression. The surge is significant considering that in 2008, there were 589,449 applications while in 2014, there have been 810,715 applications.
Another reason that the SSA cited is the crunch, which resulted from a decrease in federal grants, which also resulted in the backlog. Additionally, the government shutdown of 2013 also contributed to the delays. Historically, the SSA has dealt with backlogs several times. In 1975, the backlog was 103,000 cases, in 1990, it was 160,000 cases, in 2000, it was 311,000 cases and in 2008, it was 760,000 cases.
Source: Union-Bulletin, "Disability claims create immense federal backlog," David A. Fahrenthold, Oct. 21, 2014