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Disability appeal wait times are at a record high

Being turned down for Social Security Disability (SSD) insurance was disheartening, but you didn't give up. You applied again. Unfortunately, you were denied again.

The next step is a hearing. You know that you can get the benefits if you just explain your case to the judge. Unfortunately, it feels like it's taking forever for you to get your chance.

If this sounds familiar, you're not alone. Recent reports indicate that the amount of time people in this situation have to wait to get that appeal is now at a record high. They're waiting 596 days on average. That's about 19.5 months, more than a year and a half.

That's an increase from previous reports, which put the wait time at 545 days. Back in 2012, the wait time was under a year -- a mere 353 days. That seemed very long back then, but people would love to wait just 353 days in 2017.

Part of the issue is that cases are backlogged, and it's not getting any better. In 2010, there were roughly 700,000 cases waiting to get to an official hearing. In 2017, there are around 1.1 million cases. If this trend holds, it's just going to get worse.

The problem is that waiting isn't feasible in many cases. You're applying for benefits because you have pressing financial needs right now. You've already burned up a lot of time applying and being denied. Do you really have another 19.5 months that you can afford to wait?

With the backlog of cases and the mess that the system has become, it's more important than ever to make sure you really understand the process and know all of the legal options you have.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Wait time for federal disability benefits appeal hits a record," Kathleen Pender, Aug. 19, 2017

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