September 16, 2016

Report: Staff Losses Worsen Social Security Disability Claims Backlog As 1.1 Million Wait For Hearings

Allsup outlines importance of representation with initial disability insurance application in wake of new report about Social Security staffing losses

Belleville, Illinois — Sept. 16, 2016 — A substantial drop in the Social Security Administration’s staffing highlights the worsening challenges for 1.1 million Social Security disability applicants who are waiting an average 543 days for their appeal at a hearing, according to Allsup, the nation’s leading provider of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) representation services.

Across the U.S., staffing at state Disability Determination Service (DDS) offices has dropped by 14 percent since 2010, according to analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. That’s a loss of 1,989 DDS workers who are no longer available to process disability claims. Delays in claims processing at the initial and reconsideration levels by understaffed DDS offices adds to long wait times for those with disabilities, a large number of which will join the long line for a hearing.

“The staffing shortage at DDS offices is a growing problem, and it just roller-coasters from there,” said Mike Stein, Allsup assistant vice president of claims. “The staffing challenges are not limited to state offices. Social Security has a shortage of administrative law judges to hear disability claims, and the goal of hiring additional ALJs is not being met.”

At the same time, the SSA’s new workload report through Aug. 26 for claims pending at the hearing level totaled 1,119,090, with an average wait time that has increased to 543 days, higher than projected by the agency for FY 2016. The top five hearing offices with the longest waits now averages 729.6 days.

“Tens of thousands of people who apply for SSDI can expect to wait 30 months just to receive a hearing by a Social Security ALJ,” Stein said. “Social Security already shared concerns about increased homelessness and worsening health problems, and you can include the rising incidence of individuals who are dying while waiting for a decision on their SSDI benefits.”

The Social Security Administration (SSA) released its plan, known as Compassionate and Responsive Services (CARES), this summer with a focus on reducing waits by FY 2020, four years from now. Stein said the harrowing prospects of entering the hearing backlog point to the increasing importance of hiring an SSDI representative early.

“Having a disability specialist like Allsup to help with your Social Security disability application is more important than ever, simply to try to avoid two years stuck in the hearing backlog,” Stein explained. First-time applicants who choose Allsup have a 50% higher success rate with their SSDI application compared to the national rate at Social Security.

Apply For SSDI Benefits With Representation

To help with the Social Security disability application, Allsup offers its new dual purpose tool empower by Allsup®. In only minutes, individuals can learn their likelihood of being eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Those who successfully complete the Free SSDI Assessment can immediately start their disability insurance application with Allsup as their representative and learn more about Social Security’s return to work incentives.

Top five benefits of empower by Allsup.

  1. Individuals can find out in minutes their likelihood of being eligible for Social Security disability benefits by using empower by Allsup. Those with a severe, work-disrupting disability can avoid Social Security’s long lines and go online for a quick assessment.
  2. Time is crucial, and applicants who have an SSDI representative such as Allsup are more likely to be approved on the first application. This means applicants receive benefits within months, instead of years.
  3. Inexperienced Social Security disability applicants often make innocent mistakes on their initial application. For example, an honest answer to a seemingly simple question could get someone’s benefits denied. With empower by Allsup, applicants have an advocate because the tool is designed to ask applicants the right questions to document the information the SSA needs to make a proper claim decision.
  4. With empower by Allsup, disability specialists also provide live customer service and support. They have decades of experience with completing Social Security disability applications quickly and accurately. In addition, Allsup customers get access to user friendly videos and audio messaging throughout this streamlined, online process.
  5. Disability insurance applicants receive ongoing support with empower by Allsup unlike anything else available. They receive help understanding all of the SSDI program’s benefits, including work incentives that help individuals return to work if they medically recover.

To qualify for SSDI benefits, individuals must meet the SSA’s stringent requirements. Applicants must have paid FICA payroll taxes, typically worked five of the last 10 years, and have medical evidence of a severe physical or mental impairment that is expected to last more than 12 months or is terminal. Individuals must be unable to work and under their full retirement age (65-67).

More than 152 million U.S. workers are insured for SSDI benefits. Individuals can access the fast, Free SSDI Assessment to find our their likelihood of qualifying for benefits.

Written by

Rebecca Ray