Long Delays in the Social Security Disability Claims Process
Application Wait Times Continue to Lengthen
As Social Security Disability Lawyers in Virginia are well aware, delays in disability applications are at an all time high. Under normal conditions it can take three to six months to receive a response to your initial application for benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). But that was in the past – now the average wait time is six months, and when you finally get a response, the odds are it’s going to be a denial of your application.
Further, if you call the SSA’s 800 number for help, the average wait time is about 31 minutes, 10 times longer than a decade ago. Additionally, the average disability applicant now waits two years for a final resolution of their application. Tragically, about 10,000 people die annually before their application for benefits is resolved.
Reasons for the Extended Delay in Processing Disability Applications
It appears there are two major factors contributing to this extended delay in processing applications for Social Security disability benefits, insufficient funding and employee attrition.
The operation of this very important federal agency has been stretched almost to the breaking point due to the lack of adequate funding. Between 2010 and 2021 the agency’s operating budget shrank by 14 percent, while the number of beneficiaries increased 22 percent to 70 million Americans who receive traditional monthly Social Security retirement payments and/or disability benefits.
To help break the bureaucratic logjam, the Biden administration has asked for $1billion dollars for the SSA’s operating budget for 2023, but the prospect of getting that amount from Congress does not appear too promising at this point.
Complicating everything further is the number of employees leaving the agency for various reasons. For example, the attrition rate in state disability determination services currently stands at 25 percent. This is where initial disability decisions are made and one of the primary issues when it comes to application delays.
The highest employee departure rate is at the SSA’s teleservice centers, accounting for the half-hour wait time to speak to an agent.
If these trends continue, you can expect lengthy response times and significant delays to persist. The bottom line is, you have fewer and fewer SSA employees trying to handle an ever-increasing agency workload.
Incomplete Medical Records – An Ongoing Issue
Beyond the lack of adequate funding and high employee attrition rate, a perennial problem contributing to delays in disability application processing is the lack of sufficient medical records to support a claim.
In submitting their initial claim for disability benefits, applicants often fail to include the medical documentation necessary to support their claim. At other times, medical offices either don’t submit their records in a timely manner or fail to submit all the medical records required by the SSA to support a disability claim.
Help from an Experienced Virginia Disability Lawyer
If your initial claim for Kentucky or Virginia Social Security disability benefits is denied, and frankly, the odds are it will be, you have the right to take your appeals all the way to the federal courts if necessary. However, it is important to note that the entire appeals process can easily take two years or more.
While a disability claims lawyer cannot speed up the application or appeals process, an experienced attorney like Erick Bowman can make sure that your initial claim for benefits is complete, including all the necessary medical documentation. Also, however long the appeals process takes, he will remain by your side, guiding you every step of the way.
In his years of practicing as a Kentucky and Virginia disability lawyer, attorney Erick Bowman has helped thousands of individuals in both states secure the disability benefits to which they are entitled, and he wants to help you as well.
Whatever your situation, before beginning your application for SSA disability benefits, contact the office of O’Neil and Bowman Disability Group for a free, no-obligation evaluation of your claim for disability benefits. You have absolutely nothing to lose and potentially, much to gain!