The wait times for a disability appeal hearing has become a serious issue. Per a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, the wait times for disability appeal hearings are longer than they have ever been, reaching a record high average of 596 days recently.
Why Is the Wait Time for Disability Appeal Hearings So Long?
In 2012, the average wait time for a disability appeal hearing was 353 days. That was already a long time to have to wait to get a hearing. Now people with disabilities and their families have to wait nearly 600 days for a hearing. In addition, there is a backlog of 1.1 million disability cases that are pending an appeal hearing. That is up from a backlog of 700,000 pending cases in 2010.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle article, the Social Security Administration believes that the backlog and wait time increases are due to multiple factors, including Social Security staff shortages, the recession and Baby Boomers filing for disability benefits as they get older.
People who file for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are often out of options. Their disability makes it impossible for them to get a job to support themselves and their families. Therefore, they need Social Security disability benefits to survive. If their application is denied, then in order to collect, they have to file an appeal.
While they wait on their appeal hearing, they may have no other source of income to rely on, which results in them struggling just to afford basic necessities such as rent, food and medical care.