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Social Security Administration working to address delays, P.1

One of the unfortunate realities of applying for Social Security Disability benefits is the delay many people experience. This is a real problem. Some people wait years before finding out that they do not qualify for benefits. Others do receive their benefits, but only after extended wait times.

In one case, a Maryland man suffering from heart failure had to wait nine years before receiving notification that he would be receiving disability benefits. He and his wife, after working through years of denials and delays and slipping into poverty, were quite relieved. Not everyone has a positive experience like this after years of waiting.

The causes of the long wait times are multiple, including an increasing number of aging baby boomers, a continuing weak economy, and burdensome caseloads for Social Security workers.

The Social Security Administration has an appeals process in place that includes several layers. Most people that apply are denied and then appeal to an administrative law judge, going to court if necessary. The court process can be taxing, as overcrowded dockets and difficulty tracking down necessary medical documentation can slow things down.

Sometimes, applicants pass away before getting approved for Social Security disability benefits. Last year, this happened in 2,000 cases. For the rest, there is just waiting. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration is very well aware of the problem, and is working to correct the situation. The agency, in fact, has set the goal of closing the backlog of cases over 310 days old by 2013.

We'll keep looking at this topic in our next post.

Source: Baltimore Sun, "Families face long waits for Social Security disability benefits," Yvonne Wenger, October 27, 2012

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