Long Delays For SSDI Benefits
One of the biggest negative aspects of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits is the time it takes to have a claim approved. Currently, this time period is just under two years, on average. The time to approval is so substantial is this delay that Tampa Representative Kathy Castor has asked the Social Security Administration (SSA), the entity that examines SSDI claims, to investigate and remedy the delays in the SSDI claims process. Although Rep. Castor’s request concerns the SSA’s Tampa Office, any implemented remedy would eventually be adopted nationwide. A discussion of some of the causes for the extended time period to process SSDI claims, as well as some strategies to curb this period, will follow below.
The Primary Reason for the Long Time Period
Probably the most asked question that SSDI attorneys hear concerns whether the SSDI claim will be approved, followed by the question of how long it will take. While close to half of all SSDI claims are approved, unfortunately, as described above, the time period for this approval is lengthy, forcing applicants to attempt to survive without income.
At its root, the increase in applications is the primary cause of the time delay. As a result of the aging of the population, more and more applications are made by persons who have experienced age-related disabilities. Additionally, as SSDI benefits become more well-known, more applicants, even those in their prime working years, have been submitting applications, including applications with little support or unjustified claims. While anyone with enough work history is free to file an SSDI application, applications based on unsupported disabilities do tend to clog up the system, taking away SSA examiners from reducing the current backlog of SSDI applications.
Further complicating the situation is the Congressional underfunding of the SSA. While applications have been increasing, due to financial constraints, the SSA budget has been relatively unchanged, and staff levels are well below what is necessary to process the increased number of applications. It should be noted that this is not an issue exclusive to the SSA, as other government agencies have been forced to operate with less, as a result of fiscal cautiousness.
It should also be noted that, contrary to popular belief, the SSA does not purposely delay applications, or deny applications, solely in an effort to save money. The financial underfunding discussed above is limited to staffing issues and not to the payout money.
Strategies in Response
There are a few strategies that individuals can use to attempt to clear the backlog of SSDI applications. Initially, contacting federal representatives and asking them to support legislation that will provide additional monies for staffing the SSA, as well as to audit the SSA to ensure that it and its employees are working as efficiently as possible, can be done easily.
However, probably the most effective strategy, in light of the current financial environment, both at the SSA and throughout the country, is to secure the services of an experienced SSDI attorney to help shepherd an application through the SSA. While using an attorney cannot guarantee that an application will be addressed quicker, their services can help to ensure that any errors or omissions are reduced or eliminated, potentially reducing any delay that could hinder the progress of a successful application.
If you have filed (or are considering filing) a claim for SSDI benefits, contact the experienced SSDI benefits legal team at Farrell Disability Law as soon as possible. Our training and experience in negotiating the SSDI process is not only important to have on your side, but can aid in reducing the time delay between filing and approval. Additionally, our skill can help ensure that your application has the best chance for success. Contact our Jacksonville office today.