Working Americans who pay FICA taxes are insuring themselves against long-term and permanent disability. The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program was designed to be a safety net for American workers who develop serious chronic health problems and impairments and cannot work for 12 months or more, or whose conditions are terminal.
Unfortunately, that safety net is in dire need of repair. An unprecedented backlog in disability claims has resulted in excessive wait times for promised financial and health benefits. During the months and years of waiting with no employment income and often no health insurance, people with disabilities often experience financial crises, extreme stress and declining health.
These individuals need and deserve guidance and assistance when applying for their SSDI benefits now more than ever.
How You Can Help
- Making your patients aware of their rights to receive expert assistance with their SSDI claims from the initial level can have a significant impact on the likelihood of getting approved and reduce the amount of time they must wait for their benefits.
- Educating them on the SSDI process helps prepare them and empowers them with knowledge.
Far too many deserving individuals give up when they are denied at the initial application level because they do not understand the process, or do not have the expertise, support or ability to navigate through it successfully.
The Impact of the Backlog
- In 2015, there’s an estimated nationwide backlog of over two million claims, including over 1,000,000 cases pending at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (hearing level/level 3) alone.
- Americans are waiting an average of 14 months to receive hearings before the judges who determine their eligibility for benefits. These people have already waited 12 or more months following their application, denial and, for many, reconsideration. By the time they reach their hearing, it’s not unusual for applicants to have waited two to four years for an SSDI decision.
- Lengthy delays impose real costs on applicants. An overwhelming majority of SSDI applicants face grave financial and personal setbacks while stuck in the disability backlog, including worsening illness, drained retirement funds or other savings, the loss of existing health insurance, missed mortgage payments, and even foreclosure and bankruptcy.
For an interactive map on the status of the backlog and average wait times in your state, visit Backlog.Allsup.com