If you were injured at work and have applied for Social Security disability benefits, be prepared – Your wait likely will be far longer than anticipated. In fact, research shows that most claimants wait six months or longer for an initial determination of their eligibility for benefits. And if a claim is denied, you can expect to wait six to seven months to file for a hearing, and another 16 to 18 months to actually get in front of a judge.
Consider these figures from the US Social Security Administration:
- 1,103,830: Current number of backlogged Social Security disability claims.
- 493 days: The average per-claim processing time.
- 5 million: Number of people who applied for disability in 2015.
- 1,697: Number of administrative law judges currently hearing appeals.
- 63: Percentage of Social Security disability cases denied for medical or technical reasons.
Primary factors contributing to the backlog include a population growth and Baby Boomers coming into their elderly years, when bodies are more susceptible to injury and illness. Despite multiple initiatives designed to help minimize the problem over the past decade, the number of claims awaiting a decision hit more than one million last March – the highest number ever recorded within the SSA.
The good news is that federal officials increasingly are recognizing and addressing the issue. The SSA plans to seat some 200 new administrative law judges by 2018, increasing the number of active judges to nearly 1,900.
“The American public deserves timely, high quality hearing and appeal decisions,” said SSA Spokesman Doug Nguyen. “Currently the wait for a hearing decision on a disability benefit is too long. Resolving this public service challenge is one of our highest priorities.”
Your best bet for avoiding or quickly addressing a benefits claim denial is to skip the DIY route and have an experienced Social Security disability attorney guide you through the process and represent you in an appeal. Take a proactive approach to your claim by calling Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.