One of the greatest frustrations my clients experience is the length of time it takes to get a decision in their disability case. It usually takes 4 – 6 months to get a decision on the application, 2 – 6 months to get a decision on the 1st appeal, and 22 – 30 months to get a decision by a disability judge.
There are four basic reasons for these delays. First, SSA does not have adequate resources to process disability claims in a timely manner. SSA’s budget was reduced by Congress in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
Second, the number of people filing for disability has increased. Although SSA has improved its efficiency in recent years, this improvement is not apparent due to the increase in the number of filings.
Third, the evaluation of disability cases is complicated. In most cases, it is very difficult to determine if an individual meets SSA’s regulations for disability. Further, many individuals seeking disability have no insurance so there is a lack of medical records upon which to evaluate the case.
Lastly, I see a national compassion fatigue for social welfare programs. I have been surprised at how unpopular Social Security disability has become in recent years. Everyone seems to know someone who is receiving disability benefits but is able to work. Consequently, there is no public outcry when Congress reduces SSA’s budget three years in a row.