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More than 1 Million People Waiting for Social Security Disability Hearings

Posted by on in Social Security Disability

Chicago Social Security disability attorney, social security disability hearings,  disability applicant, disability hearings, disability benefitsPeople frequently joke about how slow the government can be when it comes to performing basic tasks. But there is nothing funny when you have applied for Social Security Disability Insurance and are waiting for a hearing.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is struggling with an ever-growing backlog of disability claims, leaving many people striving to make ends meet. And in far too many cases, disability applicants pass away before their case is even heard by the SSA.

Chicago Residents Wait an Average of 16 Months for Social Security Hearings

How bad is the Social Security backlog? According to the Associated Press, the SSA's own figures for 2017 show approximately 1,067,000 people currently waiting for disability hearings. This represents an increase of 31 percent from just five years ago.

Nationwide, the typical disability applicant must wait 602 days—more than a year and a half—just to get a hearing before an SSA administrative law judge (ALJ). This is more than double the average wait time five years ago, according to the AP. Moreover, here in Chicago, the average wait time is 16 months, or roughly 480 days, based on August 2017 statistics published by the SSA.

The SSA claims the backlog is due to the lack of ALJs and support staff. The AP reported that the SSA has hired 1,100 new staff—including 500 ALJs—in an attempt to address the backlog. But the agency is stretched to the limits of its financial resources. In fact, the SSA has seen its budget cut over the past five years, which corresponds to the dramatic increase in the backlog.

Will You Have to Sell Your Home While Waiting for Disability?

But what do these wait times mean for actual people living with disabilities? One medically retired worker recently told his story to The Washington Post. The retiree suffered from crippling back pain—the result of spending years “lifting and moving safes without proper equipment”—and was forced to stop working two years ago.

The retiree said he hoped that Social Security would quickly grant his application for disability benefits. But as months went by without a response, he could not afford to pay for basic living expenses. He and his wife were forced to sell their home and just about everything they owned. They even had to move to a different state and away from their adult daughter. At the same time, the retiree faced increasing medical expenses. After about a year, Social Security finally granted his application.

Frankly, this is one of the better scenarios a disability applicant can face. Not only did this retiree wait less than two years for a hearing, but Social Security granted his application without forcing him to go through an extended appeals process. Disability applicants frequently have to spend years working their way through the internal appeals process and the courts just to get a fair hearing. This is why you should never face the disability process alone.

An experienced Chicago Social Security disability attorney can assist you with your case from start-to-finish. Contact Pearson Disability Law, LLC, today at 312-999-0999 to schedule a consultation today.


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