February 7, 2022

Disability Insurance Initial Claims Decrease, But Processing Times Increase During Coronavirus Pandemic

Social Security Office of the Inspector General reports largest year-to-year changes at state DDS offices occurred during the COVID-19 period of April 2020 to March 2021

Belleville, Illinois —Feb. 7, 2022 Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applications assigned to State Disability Determination Services (DDS) offices dropped 15.9% during the COVID-19 period of April 2020 to March 2021 compared to the same period from 2019 to 2020. However, processing times for the former workers’ claims increased 46%, according to Allsup, a nationwide provider of SSDI representation and veterans disability appeals services. 

The December 2021 report by Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) compared the agency’s DDS workload statistics during the pandemic to prior time frames as far back as 2017.

“The report also revealed that DDS offices across the country received fewer reconsideration appeals and continuing disability reviews (CDRs) during that same pandemic time frame than in the previous period,” said T.J. Geist, Principal Advocate for Allsup.

“The OIG intends to conduct another review to determine why the DDS workload categories changed significantly during this time period. However, Allsup’s experience helping more than 350,000 people obtain their SSDI benefits, tells us that widespread Social Security and DDS office closures, lack of in-person support, and a substantial increase in the number of phone calls requesting assistance, have all contributed to these findings,” Geist said.

One reason individuals struggle to manage their own disability claims is that the complex Social Security disability program can require processing multiple long forms, medical reviews, hearings and appeals across many local, state and federal level organizations – all under the SSA’s umbrella. All the organizations work to confirm an individual meets these requirements:

  • Be between 21 and full retirement age,
  • Have worked at least five out of the last 10 years and paid FICA taxes,
  • Be unable to work in any capacity because of a mental or physical impairment expected to last at least 12 months or result in death,
  • Be under the care of a healthcare professional who can confirm severity of medical condition(s).

“With some exceptions, such as Compassionate Allowances, getting benefits is not an easy or quick process.

Recent study of SSA data show having an experienced disability representative working with SSA on your behalf improves the likelihood of getting benefits early and with Allsup, that’s 50% higher,” Geist added. 

Learn more about: What is SSDI? on this informational page.

To hear from an Allsup customer about his experience, watch this video.

Help with SSDI Claims and Appeals

For more information about applying for SSDI benefits, filing your appeal if you’re denied, or to see if you are eligible, visit FileSSDI.Allsup.com or call 1-800-678-3276.

Allsup and its subsidiaries provide nationwide Social Security disability, veterans disability appeal, return to work, exchange plan and Medicare services for individuals, their employers and insurance carriers. Allsup professionals deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. Founded in 1984, the company is based in Belleville, Illinois, near St. Louis. Learn more at TrueHelp.com and @Allsup or download a free PDF of Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance: Getting It Right The First Time.

*Source: April 2021-FOIA SSA-Limitation on Administrative and Allsup, 1/1/2020-12/31/20