COVID-19 has struck our state harder than expected. On April 21, there were only 2,807 known cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma. As of September 11, those totals increased to 67,642 infections. Worse yet, this disease has a disproportionately higher effect on the disability community. Since Oklahomans with disabilities are often immunocompromised, they are vulnerable to this virus. However, this virus has also had unexpected effects on the lives of individuals with disabilities.
The attorneys at Troutman & Troutman, P.C. have gathered info you need to know about these effects. Here are the ways the coronavirus pandemic has affected the disability community.
How Has Coronavirus Affected Disability Benefits?
As communities closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, lawmakers tried to relieve the financial burden of lockdown. This relief came in the form of a stimulus check back in April. Though, some worried that people with disabilities would not get a check, government officials promised otherwise. Difficulties and delays have plagued the distribution of these checks, but they have still helped those who received them. The larger problem has been the effects of lockdown on the disability application process.
Before the pandemic, applications for disability benefits had a year-long backlog. Now, that wait has increased dramatically. In March, Social Security Administration (SSA) offices closed to slow the spread of COVID-19. These offices are starting to reopen, but the closings caused delays and problems.
Applicants often had to apply for benefits over the phone. Wait times were often up to 90 minutes or more. Some individuals could not get through to the administration.
Dealing With COVID-19 Disability Application Delays
Though these delays are disheartening, experts urge applicants not to give up. Though the application process is slower, it has not stopped. Do not wait until after the Social Security Administration offices open to apply for benefits. Stalling could cause unnecessary delays in receiving benefits.
Another measure that can help applicant is seeking the help of an attorney. There are almost 600,000 people waiting for a decision on their initial application. Mistakes in the application or in the appeal process can lead to significant delays in the receipt of benefits or a significant loss of benefits.