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How the hiring freeze is impacting SSD benefits applications

Florida residents are well aware that changes must occur within the Social Security Administration in order to extend the longevity of the programs it offers for those suffering from disabilities. Whether an individual is living with a disability they were born with or one caused by an injury or illness, he or she will have to go through the application process to obtain Social Security disability. But as the number of people seeking these benefits continues to grow, the backlog and waiting period grows right along with it.

For applicants waiting to hear a decision on their benefits, this can be a difficult situation. The current federal hiring freeze is causing many to question how this might impact the process or if the effects have already been felt. Based on recent reports, the hiring freeze has indirectly impacted SSD beneficiaries because the SSA has less available staff to help answer questions and problems that those beneficiaries may have..

As a response to the hiring freeze and this indirect impact, two members of the U.S. House of Representative, Al Lawson and Darren Sotto, sent a letter to the President. Fifty House members signed this letter. The purpose of the letter was to highlight that the SSA budget has declined by 10 percent but the number of beneficiaries has increased by more than 12 percent.

The changes to the SSA has caused 64 field offices to close, a hearing backlog that averages about 540 days, an increased waiting period at every point of contact and extended durations for appointments.

Even if an applicant must wait longer, individuals suffering disabilities have rights and options. Whether you are filing an initial application, preparing for a hearing or filing an appeal, it is important to be aware of the process and the steps you can take along the way to protect your rights and interests.

Source: Floridapolitics.com, "Al Lawson, Darren Soto urge hirings not be frozen at Social Security Administration," Scott Powers, March 21, 2017

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