Why does it take so long to get a hearing for disability?

Applicants for Social Security Disability often wonder "Why does the process take so long?"

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is faced with a backlog of hundreds of thousands of disputed disability claims. In fact, the clog is so large, some people are forced to wait years for a hearing.

The SSA claims that a simple formula helps explain the backlog: too many cases, not enough staffing, and an increase in claims that involve hard-to-prove ailments, such as depression, anxiety and back pain. Put these together and you have a massive traffic jam.

The SSA recently received $500 million in governmental aid to address the problem, but it won't serves as a magical solution to a problem that has been years in the making. In fact, it could take four to five more years before the claims backlog is cleared.

In the meantime, the SSA is working to improve the process. The Quick Disability Determination (QDD) system has been extended nationwide, while the number of "aged" cases has been greatly reduced.

The number of Americans who receive disability has more than doubled since 1990. In fact, currently there are 7.4 million Americans receiving disability, while the number of professional staff used to process the claims has dropped by around 5 percent. 

Another factor to take into consideration for the backlog is the number of people who apply for disability that are able to work, and are simply looking for assistance that they don't require. Obviously, this only increases the wait for people who are truly disabled.

Most applicants learn that they are unable to navigate the system on their own. As many as 85 percent of applicants will hire a lawyer such as Keller & Keller to help prepare their paperwork, gather medical records and ready them for a hearing.

The Social Security Administration is approaching the problem from multiple angles — experimenting with electronic records to speed up medical reviews, hiring more judges and other staff, and adding offices — but the efforts only go as far as the funding.

Working with an attorney with experience handling disability can help improve the odds of a successful outcome. A legal resource can help advise an applicant or recipient through every phase of the lenghty process, from initial filing to appeal.

If you need help with a filing or appeal, contact the Indiana disability attorneys at the law offices of Keller & Keller.

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