Long Wait Times Still a Problem in Social Security Disability Cases

Calendar on a wall

It is always frustrating for our clients to hear about the long wait time applicants have for getting a final decision about disability from Social Security. The initial decision by Social Security can take 3-6 months or even longer. Then, if a denial is received, it can take years to work through a system of appeals before finally being deemed disabled and paid the much needed monthly benefits. In the meantime, a disabled applicant can go without medical treatment, exhaust financial resources, go bankrupt, and even die before the decision is reached.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a recent report dated 8/13/2020 outlining the results of a study of people who applied for disability benefits in the years 2009 to 2018 and appealed initial denials. Many of those denied cases required not only appeals to the ALJ hearing and subsequent reviews by the Appeals Council, but also appeals to Federal Court. Of the denied applicants who appealed, the GAO study found 1.3 percent declared bankruptcy while awaiting a final decision about their disability. Of these, nearly half were eventually found to be disabled and awarded benefits.

The GAO report also shows an increase in overall wait times and a decrease in award rates during the period studied. The percentage of applicants who died each year while awaiting decisions also increased. Overall, 109,725 claimants who filed appeals in fiscal years 2008-2019 died while awaiting a decision. The study points out this 1.2 percent mortality rate is higher than the general population but lower than the death rate among those who were awarded benefits at the initial level. Interestingly, male applicants were more likely than female applicants to die while awaiting a decision.

For more information about the trend of Social Security wait times, see the GAO report.

Get Started On Your Case Today

No attorney can legitimately claim to speed up the wait times for final decisions in disability cases. But, having an experienced Social Security disability attorney evaluate your claim and work with your doctors to develop the best evidence possible can significantly strengthen your case and improve your odds of a Favorable Decision. If you have a claim for Social Security disability, the attorneys of Syfrett, Dykes & Furr are available to help you.


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