Florida residents who are seeking Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits have a lot to consider as they wait out the process. With an inability to work and the lag between filing for benefits and the hearing, bills can accumulate, financial problems can grow more troublesome and their treatment options can be put on hold, due to an inability to pay for medication. Waiting out a decision on one’s disability status adds another layer to the concerns that accompany having an illness, disability or condition that made an application for SSD benefits necessary in the first place.
It is an increasing issue that people whose claims are clearly viable due to their illnesses, disabilities or conditions are forced to wait an extended period for a Social Security Disability hearing. One diabetic woman who is also suffering from arthritis and had open heart surgery lost her home and could not pay for her medication, as she waited for over two years to have hear case heard by a judge. Another claimant was denied Social Security and is waiting for her opportunity to have her appeal heard. These examples highlight the reality that the disability process is being hindered by a lack of judges to hear the cases.
There are currently at least one million hearings pending. Those who are waiting for their benefits understand that it is worthwhile to wait out the process and push forward knowing that more than half of those who apply will be approved. Many get their SSD benefits after an initial denial.
Miami has one of the largest backlogs in the country at more than two years. Other locations across the country are approaching that lag time. Nationally, the average is an estimated 16 months. After the hearing, the wait for a decision is generally another four to five months.
The Social Security Administration is attempting to reduce the wait time in the coming years, and new strategies are being implemented to achieve that goal. Those who are seeking SSD benefits in Florida and across the country undoubtedly understand how difficult the terrain has gotten in not only receiving an approval, but also having their case heard. Having legal assistance to receive benefits can help a claimant prepare for the inevitable roadblocks that are cropping up more and more and help them deal with the process effectively.
Source: Florida Today, “Long wait times plague Social Security disability process,” Nov. 28, 2015