Many people in Missouri and nationwide may apply for Social Security Disability benefits. However, the unfortunate fact is that many times their SSD claim is initially denied. When this happens, there is an appeals process in place. Following a denial at the reconsideration stage of appeal, a claimant can seek a hearing with an administrative law judge. However, there is currently a major backlog in such cases, which the Social Security Administration is trying to address.
As of fiscal year 2017, over one million people in the United States appealed a denial of Social Security disability benefits, and they waited on average 605 days before receiving a decision on their case. To address this issue, over the past 10 years, the SSA transferred more appealed disability claims from offices that had a backlog of appealed claims to offices that the SSA believed were better able to process such claims. Starting in fiscal year 2008 until 2017, the percentage of transferred claims went up from 14 to 43 percent.
Despite this, the amount of time it took to process appealed SSD claims on average went up and the number of older pending claims also went up from fiscal year 2012 until 2017. The SSA stated this increase in processing time was due to a number of factors, including an uptick in appeal hearing requests following the recession the nation experienced from 2007 to 2009. The SSA also pointed to software limitations that made it more difficult to identify claims to transfer from one office to another.
This may be disappointing news to those who are awaiting a decision on their appealed disability benefits claim. However, an initial denial of a claim is not the end of the story. There are four levels of appeals a person denied benefits can request. The first is a reconsideration of their claim by a person not involved in the initial decision. The second is a hearing before an administrative law judge. The third is a review by the Appeals Council. Finally, a denied claim can be reviewed in Federal Court. So, despite the long wait times, some claimants may find that it is still beneficial to pursue an appeal of a denied decision if it means ultimately having their claim for benefits approved.