By the end of September, the projected average wait for a disability claimant in need of a live hearing will be 605 days. That is almost two years, and that’s on top of the four-month to one-year wait it takes to even find out if you will need a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ). This wait has become an embarrassment to the administration, but will its latest plan reduce Social Security disability waitlists?
How Can Authorities Reduce the SSDI Waitlist?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) estimates that around 8,699 people died while waiting for disability hearings during 2016. This number has critics up in arms, demanding that something be done to shorten the waitlist at the heart of this problem. Now the SSA has responded with a plan presented to the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee.
At a recent hearing, SSA officials made a proposal to half the current waiting period by 2022. In this proposal, 500 new ALJ’s would be added to the nearly 1,600 already hearing appeals from SSDI and SSI claimants. The agency is also promising 600 new support staff members will also be hired to knock wait times down. This is great news for people waiting to get disability benefits, but some are saying this push isn’t enough.
Jim Allsup, chairman and CEO of the disability representation organization Allsup, says that halving the waitlist by 2022 is not fast enough. He insists that the SSA needs a Senate-confirmed leader, which it hasn’t had since 2013. He also believes a faster process is owed to the thousands of families suffering while they wait. Lisa Ekman of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives seems to agree. She insists that the Social Security Administration can only be effective if it is given more resources. She believes that “efficiencies, reprioritization or tasks or technological improvements” won’t make up for funding from the federal government.
What do you think? Will SSA be able to slash the SSDI and SSI waitlist for hearings by 2022? For now, claimants can only file and hope for the best, but an experienced disability attorney may be able to help. Disability lawyers know the common pitfalls that can hold up the process of getting benefits approved. To learn more, contact our Tulsa office to see what can be done to help your SSDI and/or SSI application.