October 19, 2021

Social Security Appeals Backed Up

“A recent report shows that there are more than 740,000 pending Social Security appeals awaiting a ruling on benefits eligibility. This is an approximately 5% increase over the number of pending cases from a year ago. There are several suggested reasons for the increase including the rise in unemployment and disabled citizens being unable to find jobs because of the current economy. The report measured data from both Social Security Disability Insurance, which benefits those who show they have long term injuries or illness and will not be able to continue working, and Supplemental Security Income, which assists those who are aged, blind, or disabled with very little or no income.

Social Security Appeals Backed Up

The increase in the number of pending cases is problematic because based on what has happened in the past, as the growth in the number of the cases continues, hearing dockets will become more clogged and wait times will increase even more. The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a data research organization that examined the statistics and released their findings, said that wait times are on average 367 days. In a goal set by the Social Security Administration, this number was supposed to be reduced to 270 days by 2013. However, the SSA was hit with economic realities of their own and canceled plans to open eight additional hearing offices, which would have aided the agency greatly in getting more cases heard in a more reasonable time frame. The number of pending cases varies but the states that have seen the greatest increase over the last year are Georgia, Nevada, and New Mexico.

The process of obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance can be complicated and lengthy. Disabled Americans initially file a claim for benefits at a local agency in their state. If their initial claim is denied, they are able to request reconsideration. If the claim for benefits is denied twice, then they are entitled to an appeal before an Administrative Law Judge at the Social Security Administration. Given the steps that disabled people must take prior to even reaching the appeal level, it is clear why a year long wait in addition to the initial claim period is a concern.

Social Security Administration Commissioner Michael Astrue questioned whether the report was truly a measure of anything significant. Astrue noted that while their goal of reducing the number of average number of days to hear a case might not be met, the most important thing was that benefit decisions were being delivered in a shorter amount of time and being processed quicker. A spokesman from the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives agreed with the Commissioner’s view and noted that cases were being decided faster and that was the most important thing for those applying for benefits and that the main concern was would this progress continue in light of budgetary concerns.”

Find out more, visit:

USA Today

Social Security Administration Hearings and Appeals

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse

National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives

AARP Social Security Disability Fact Sheet