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Long SSD wait times blamed on inefficiency and low funding

On Behalf of | Nov 12, 2023 | Social Security Disability

People in Indiana dealing with disabling illnesses or injuries can expect long waits after applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. During a Congressional hearing before the House Ways and Means Social Security subcommittee, a representative revealed that a record-breaking 1 million people were waiting for responses to their disability applications. Experts testified that the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) process and insufficient budget contributed to the worsening delays.

Reconsideration step viewed as inefficient

When you apply for SSD benefits, the SSA reviews your application and eventually issues a determination, which is often a denial of the claim. You can expect this step to take 220 days on average. The next step you can take after an initial denial is called asking for reconsideration.

However, the reconsideration step rarely reverses the denial because 90% of reconsiderations result in the same denial as the initial determination. Only after failing during the reconsideration step can you request a review by an administrative law judge. These hearings involve an in-depth examination of your application and could result in approval of benefits.

As a result, advocates for the disabled community recommend removing the reconsideration step. It ties up SSA personnel while only delaying applicants a timely opportunity to take their cases before judges.

SSA budget problems

SSA leadership has cited a need to hire more people to process claims and address the backlog of applications. Critics of the SSA have pointed out that the agency could spend its current resources more wisely. For example, the agency has yet to use the updated occupational data it spent $300 million developing. At this time, the agency continues to use occupational data that is 30 years out of date.