While most disability claims are initially denied by the Social Security Administration applicants are entitled to appeal those decisions.
Social Security disability is a federal program which pays benefits to an injured person and certain family members, provided that the injured person worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes into the system.
While most disability claims are initially denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA), applicants are entitled to appeal those decisions. The appeals process begins with a formal "reconsideration," where the agency reviews the initial application. If the applicant disagrees with the reconsideration decision, a hearing will take place in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ).
Unfortunately, the wait time for a hearing can be extensive, especially in Illinois. According to a report in the Chicago Sun Times, Illinois residents face one of the longest wait times for Social Security disability insurance claims.
The National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) notes that in 2008, the average time for a hearing on a disability claim reached 541 days. Currently, the wait time for a hearing is down to 442 days according to the SSA. In Illinois, the Sun Times report indicates that the average wait time is still over 480 days, the sixth longest average in the country. Ohio had the longest wait time, with applicants waiting an average of 591 days for a hearing; down from a high of 758 days.
Agency Efforts to Speed up the Process
In an effort to address the issue, the agency announced its backlog reduction program in 2007. Over the years, it has hired additional ALJs and support staff to handle the increasing case load. SSA notes that it hired nearly 150 additional administrative law judges and over 1,000 support staff in 2009. The agency plans to hire over 200 more ALJs this year as well. Though the agency has taken steps to reduce the average wait time, there are still nearly 700,000 pending hearings nationwide.
Despite the efforts of SSA and implementation of the backlog reduction program, it can still take years to start receiving benefits. During the time you are waiting, there are other sources of income that can help you get by. These include short or long term disability issued by or through your employer and worker's compensation, if you were working at the time you became disabled.
Speaking With an Attorney
Working with an experienced Social Security Disability attorney is one of the best ways to save yourself time. This will ensure that your application is filled out properly and eliminate mistakes that can cause delays in processing your application. Attorneys can also help with the appeals process and may be able to present a more compelling and effective case on your behalf.
Article provided by Marshall W. Conick, Attorney at Law - Visit us at www.mconicklaw.com