With more than one million applicants waiting for disability claims to be processed, the Social Security backlog has worsened in the last few years with the average time to process claims rising to an estimated 450 days, according to a new watchdog report.
The number of applicants in queue exceeds the population of six U.S. states. For some applicants, the current wait is longer than 17 months to receive a decision.
Not only has the backlog been under scrutiny by government officials, Congress has even held hearings on the issue. Social Security has appointed new leadership in an attempt to reduce the backlog. The new head of office says she has put the finishing touches on a plan to reduce the volume of pending cases and to speed up the process.
Changes Hope to Reduce Backlog
Although the system is still backlogged, changes are beginning to go into effect to reduce the backlog of appeals from applicants who have been denied benefits. Each denied application must go through an appeals process in which requires a hearing before an administrative law judge.
The backlog has been caused by an increase in requests for hearings from denied applicants, declining judge productivity, fewer staff attorneys to decide cases and a reduced number of judges.
The Administration is working to speed up this process by including a better triage of cases so fewer require lengthy hearings. New electronic data will help determine which cases can be screened by claims examiners and attorneys who can make decisions more quickly than judges. Additional attorneys and support staff dedicated to helping judges will also be added.
If you are in the process of applying for Social Security disability or if your claim has been denied, our Social Security disability lawyers can help you through the process. Having an experienced advocate on your side can help speed up the process by making sure all of your documentation is accurate and complete upon first submission.