Recently, the Des Moines Register had an interesting story about how administrative law judge (ALJ) delays in Iowa are causing people applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to lose their eligibility, lose their homes and sometimes even die before receiving benefits.
The news source reported that one ALJ had delays in cases that became so acute that the state had to step in to help her. One attorney told the Register that her client waited so long for a hearing before the ALJ that her client died. “She conveniently approved (benefits) now that the woman was no longer here,” the attorney told the news source.
The ALJ’s backlog became so bad that her cases were reassigned to another regional office in Kansas. “A record 1 million Americans are waiting for decisions on [SSDI] benefits from the roughly 1,500 administrative law judges around the country,” the Register reported. “The Office of the Inspector General recently concluded that declining productivity among its judges was a major reason for the Social Security Administration’s failures to eliminate that backlog.”
Nationwide, on average, people wait about 14 months to get a hearing before an ALJ. One client that the Register talked to applied for SSDI in 2013 due to a degenerative disc ailment and Grave’s Disease, but her case was reassigned to the office in Kansas. She told the paper she has no income and she is forced to live with her grandfather.
“I just feel like I’m being pushed around. They already had the hearing,” she said. “Honestly, this just makes me really disappointed in lawyers and judges.”
Another woman said she suffered multiple heart attacks and a stroke that left her with poor eyesight—she applied for SSDI in 2009 and had to wait until 2014 for her case to be heard. She eventually received a decision later that year.
“It seemed like forever,” the woman told the Register. “Before the decision, my mom and family had to take care of me. It was very hard. We complained, but the (office workers) just keep saying they were reviewing it.”
The SSDI Process Can Be Long – Make Sure You Work With Our Tulsa Social Security Lawyers
It is unfortunate that so many people with disabilities across the country are being forced to wait for long periods to see ALJs. For most, SSDI is a financial lifeline that could help them tremendously, and the delays can be extremely stressful.
Numerous factors that can influence SSDI waiting periods—we wrote about this issue last December. This is why it is important to work with our Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers. We can guide you through the application or appeals process, which may help speed up the waiting period for your claim.
For more information about the process, you can visit our FAQ page.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers