Backlog for SSD appeals troublesome for applicants

St. Louis residents who are suffering from an illness and believe that they believe meets the qualifications to receive Social Security disability benefits must be aware that the validity of the medical issue is doubtlessly important, but so too are other factors. One issue that is prominent is the number of people who are waiting for a hearing to receive their benefits. Understanding how this is problematic and the steps to take in attempting to mitigate the wait time is vital.

Currently, there are more than a million people who are waiting for a hearing with the average amount of time they are waiting an estimated two years. For some, time is of the essence and by the time they receive their hearing, they have already died. People who are seeking a hearing were denied Social Security disability. The right to appeal is available for all and there are four levels of appeal, but the person who decides on the case can vary. Many people who appeal will end up being approved.

There are examples of people who have suffered illnesses and were unable to get their benefits until it was too late because of an initial denial. One man was a mason and suffered from back pain but continued working. Eventually, he had several heart attacks and applied for SSD benefits. He was denied at first and appealed to an Administrative Law Judge. He died 10 months before a ruling stating that he should have gotten benefits. Another man suffered a work-related illness, had numerous health problems, but was denied benefits. He died before he turned 40. His wife went to his hearing in his stead and was told that it was clear that he would have been approved.

7,400 people who were on the waitlist died before they had their hearing. Since the Social Security Administration has a backlog, there are new ALJs being hired and other staff added. The SSA is attempting to speed the process, but there are ongoing lags. Often, denials are based on a lack of information or mistakes that an applicant has made in the steps seeking benefits. Having legal assistance can ensure that the forms are filled out correctly and the proper steps are taken in an immediate fashion if an appeal is necessary. Discussing a case with an attorney can help with every step of seeking Social Security disability benefits for illness.

Source:, “Disability backlog tops 1M; thousands die on waitlist,” Sept. 17, 2017

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