One of the most frustrating parts about dealing with any government agency is the potential for long waits. Whether you are trying to get your license renewed at the DMV or trying to get a pothole fixed in your neighborhood, service can be exasperatingly slow.
This is the experience that some people have when applying for Social Security Disability Benefits. Certain regions of the country process claims rather quickly, while others have a backlog of a year or more. And while applicants wait to hear if their claims have been approved or rejected, many are struggling to make ends meet with no income to speak of.
This problem was the subject of a news article from earlier this month. Until recently, the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review in Buffalo, New York, had been associated with some of the longest claims-processing wait times in the nation. At one point, wait times in that region averaged about 18 months.
One woman who was interviewed for the article first filed an application for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in July 2011. Her case did not go before an administrative law judge until January 2013. And it was not until earlier this month that the woman received her first benefits payment, which was actually a lump sum for two years of retroactive disability payments.
According to news sources, the problem in this woman’s case was an administrative law judge who was nearing retirement and had developed a reputation for her very long wait times. That judge has since retired and wait times have begun to shorten.
As you can imagine, many SSDI applicants feel the strain of financial problems while waiting to have their claims approved. Qualifying for disability necessarily means little to no ability to work and to earn income, which is why most applicants cannot afford to wait indefinitely.
Working with an experienced SSDI attorney can help reduce this wait time by making sure that applicants submit all necessary and convincing evidence/documentation as early in the process as possible. This can mean fewer appeals and fewer delays caused by incomplete applications. An attorney may not be able to help you with the wait times caused by an inefficient government bureaucracy, but he can make sure that your case for why you deserve benefits is as strong as it can be.
Source: WIVB.com, “Three-year wait for Social Security Disability finally over,” Al Vaughters, Sept. 3, 2014