Why Thousands Have Died Waiting on Social Security Disability Hearings Since 2011
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a Social Security program that provides monthly benefits to those who have become disabled before reaching retirement age and are no longer able to work for a living. Unfortunately, far too many people fail to receive social security disability hearings in a timely manner.
Unlike other disability programs, Social Security pays only for total disability. If you have a partial or short-term disability, you won’t be eligible for a monthly payout. You must also be unable to earn a living in any industry — the inability to work in your chosen career is not grounds for approval.
Despite the strict rules, there are thousands of people in the United States suffering from illnesses and unable to work full-time. However, because the approval process for Social Security Disability Insurance is so lengthy, many die while waiting for their claim to be decided.
The Problematic Process
According to The United States Social Security Administration (SSA), most claims are denied the first time around. Claimants must then apply for reconsideration. If that, too, is rejected, a hearing is scheduled for potential approval.
This is where the system becomes increasingly problematic. For those waiting to schedule a hearing, the timeline is lengthened significantly. The average wait period for a hearing in Charleston is over 500 days. The same wait period in Columbia is 443 days.
According to Social Security Disability expert Seth Carguiolo, more than 2,000 claimants nationwide have died while waiting for their claims to be handled.
Why the long wait time? The SSA blames a record number of hearing requests due to aging baby boomers and the economic recession. To reduce the backlog, the organization has received $290 million in federal funding. Since 2016, nearly 600 administrative law judges were hired.
Still, more than 600,000 people are waiting for a decision. In South Carolina, approval could mean an average monthly payment of just over $1,300 — a life-changing amount of money for someone who can no longer work.
Who Qualifies for Social Security Disability?
In order to be eligible for Social Security Disability, you must have worked in a job that required you to pay into Social Security for a certain amount of time. That amount is determined by a credit-based system — the longer you’ve paid in, the more credits you’ll have.
In addition to a specific number of credits, you must have an approved medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability; and you won’t be able to get benefits until your ability to work has been reduced for a year because of that disability.
The main questions the SSA will ask when reviewing your case include:
- Are you currently working?
- Do your earnings average more than $1,220 a month?
- Is your diagnosis severe?
- Has your ability to work been reduced for at least a year?
- Can you perform the same work you were doing prior to your condition?
- Can you perform another type of work?
Contact a Social Security Disability Lawyer for Assistance
If you are unable to work full-time as a result of a physical or mental health condition, you may need assistance navigating Social Security Disability Insurance. For professional assistance from an experienced attorney, contact The Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson Jr. in Rock Hill, Fort Mill, Lancaster, or Union at (803)-324-7200.