April 25, 2017

Hiring Freeze May Make Disability Case Delays Worse

Filed under: General — Casper & Casper @ 1:50 am

The Social Security Disability program is a labyrinth. It is full of confusing regulations, requirements, and exceptions. (We cover one of the many common misconceptions about SSDI in a previous post.)

A small mistake on your paperwork, a lack of preparation, or a missed filing deadline can mean that your claim is delayed or even denied. Unfortunately, this happens often, particularly to people who try to go through the system without the help of a skilled attorney. Up to 70 percent of first-time claims are denied.

People who have been injured or face a long-term disability need Social Security Disability to pay their bills and support themselves. They simply can’t go without an income while they aren’t able to work. If their claim is denied because of some small paperwork error, they are forced to appeal. As a result, there is a huge number of appeals that have to be processed.

Bloomberg reports that the backlog for appeals yet to be processed is 526 days, almost a year and a half. This means that about 1.1 million people who are appealing their case have to wait more than a year to see an appeals court judge and make their case.

social security disability claims  can take 526 days to process

Unfortunately, the delay is likely to only get worse. In the article, Bloomberg notes that President Trump’s federal hiring freeze will worsen the backlog.

Why? There are around 1,650 judges responsible for looking over the claims of people whose applications for Social Security Disability were denied by state agencies. While that may seem like a large number of judges, it isn’t enough to clear the backlog and process appeals claims in a timely manner. For a judge, processing a SSDI claim properly includes reviewing hundreds of pages of medical records, expert assessments, and other paperwork. (Now, imagine that task multiplied by more than a million!) Last year, the Social Security Administration announced that it wanted to streamline the process and hire an addition 250 judges (bringing the total to 1,900) to help do so.

The federal hiring freeze is a temporary halt on hiring federal civilian employees. (The freeze grants exemptions to staff needed for national security or public safety reasons and also allows other exemptions on a case-by-case basis.) The order is designed, according to the administration, to help balance the budget and create a more efficient government.

While these are laudable goals, not everyone agrees that the hiring freeze will achieve them.

President of the Association of Administration Law Judges union Judge Marilyn Zahm said, “There may be a hiring freeze on federal employment, but there’s no freeze on people getting older, people getting sicker, people having injuries and accidents, and people needing disability insurance.”

In addition to the union, several former heads of the Social Security Administration—both Republican and Democrat—have expressed concerns that the hiring freeze will prevent the agency from properly serving the American public.

At Casper & Casper Law, we are also concerned about the hiring freeze. Our Social Security Disability attorneys work in the system every day, helping injured and sick people successfully complete their claims. We understand how frustrating it is to be denied access to the help that you need and deserve.

We believe this news highlights why it is so important to get a Social Security Disability claim right the first time. If you have been injured or have a mental or physical illness that will prevent you from working for more than a year, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance. Whether or not you qualify will depend on how long you have worked, how recently you have worked, and a number of other requirements. Even if you do qualify, the success of your claim is not guaranteed: it depends on the proper completion of paperwork, compelling testimony at your hearing, and other factors.

We strongly recommend talking to a local Cincinnati, Ohio, Social Security Disability lawyer about your case. After speaking with an attorney, you’ll know if you qualify and have a better understanding of your options. With an attorney’s help, you will have a higher likelihood of getting your claim approved. Perhaps best of all, you’ll be able to focus on taking care of yourself instead of attempting to juggle your medical needs with a long and confusing court case.

You shouldn’t have to wait years to get the benefits you need. We want you to know that we will fight to get you your benefits, including backpay and retroactive benefits from the start of your disability, as soon as possible. You don’t have to go through this difficult time alone.

To get your questions answered, contact Casper & Casper for a free consultation. Our firm has offices in Cincinnati, Dayton, Middletown, and Hamilton, Ohio, for your convenience.

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