As all our client know, we find ourselves telling them that the average time span from the initial application to being awarded benefits is often two to two and half years. It’s a long time! Recently we’ve learned that the backlog of hearings that need to be scheduled has reached an all time high of a 600 day wait time. This means that once a case reaches the hearing appeals level, it could be up to 600 days before a hearing is scheduled. This means that the whole appeals process is getting closer to the 3 year mark.
The Social Security Administration is aware of this problem and is urging legislatures to protect the budget that is allocated to the SSA each year. There has been a proposal to reduce the budget by $460 million dollars. The effects of this would mean that people would have to wait even longer. The SSA budget includes money to pay for facilities, staff, judges, overhead costs, etc. With such a large reduction in the budget, it would handcuff the SSA and slow down an already slow process for people that desperately need these benefits. With the number of people requesting disability only increasing each year, a reduction in budget is not the best solution.
While it’s concerning, it doesn’t change the fact that all our clients need these benefits. Even though the process may take longer, our firm continues to do everything we can to move things forward. It’s important to stay the course. In the long run, when benefits are awarded, many people (although not all) are also awarded back pay which will help cover some of the medical bills that people have had to hold off on paying until the benefits are awarded. Benefits can be life-changing for our clients, so we highly encourage anyone who is feeling frustrated with the length of time this process takes to give our office a call.