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SSD Hearing Waits Increase

Published on January 22nd, 2016

The wait for Social Security disability hearings is increasing, while those in need die waiting. Overburdened Administrative judges are working through caseloads of appeals all over America. Over a million hearings are currently pending, and just under half of applicants eventually get the benefits. Miami holds the country’s longest average wait time for a hearing at 22 months. Other cities that are nearly as bad include Brooklyn, Spokane, Milwaukee, and Fort Meyers. The national average wait according to the Social Security Administration is 16 months.

Most individuals are without any form of income during the wait to have their disability case heard. Many disability claimants slip into poverty, burdening their families and dragging down the economy. Often those who are waiting for a decision on their disability benefits can’t afford needed medication becoming severely ill even causing death, while others become homeless. Sherice Bennet is experiencing these harsh conditions as she has waited for two years now to convince a judge that she qualifies for federal disability benefits. Sherice Bennet’s diabetes, arthritis and open heart surgery have left her without work waiting for a hearing, where she has become homeless and unable to afford proper medication.

The $12.6 billion Social Security disability program is funded through payroll taxes. Recipients collect their monthly check of up to $1,165. Nine million permanently unemployed Americans who qualify from prior work history receive this check. Over 8 million others qualify because of their low-income and receive an average of $540 a month. Both of these two groups require medical proof they are ineligible to work.

The agency’s current goal is to reduce the wait time to about nine months or less by 2020. A prehearing program has begun, and the hiring of more than 400 judges is planned by 2018. There is also the idea of video hearings which will help to reduce backlogs as judges with lighter caseloads in other states can share the work load.

Courtesy of: Union-Bulletin.com

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