Just about any legal proceeding that must go through a courthouse is going to take some time. Courts typically have a long list of people seeking to have their claims handled, and all of them are entitled to their day in court. Having said that, too many people in Missouri and around the U.S. are having to wait for years, simply to find out if they will receive Social Security disability benefits.
Backlogs in the administrative courts that handle SSD claims vary from region to region, but the average wait before an initial application is approved or rejected is 393 days. In other words, many applicants who are disabled and no longer able to work have to wait more than a year — and they may not be approved at that point. Most initial SSD applications are rejected, so the applicant must appeal.
The appeal can take even longer than the first round. It is sometimes years before an administrative law judge decides whether to overturn a rejected SSD claim. During this time, the applicant may have little income coming in, due to the very disability that caused him or her to apply in the first place.
A woman from outside of Missouri provides a revealing example. She suffered neck and back injuries on the job and had to stop working. To try to keep her house, she applied for SSD benefits, but was turned down.
She then appealed. That was more than two years ago, and her case has yet to be decided. Though she checks on her case regularly, there has been little movement in months.
This may all sound discouraging, but readers should remember that any adult with a long-term disability and an established work history may be entitled to benefits. Hiring an attorney may help reduce the wait time.
Source: WIVB-TV, “Social Security: Long wait for disability,” Al Vaughters, Feb. 6, 2014