Belleville, Illinois — June 27, 2017 — After waiting an average of 583 days for their Social Security disability hearings, 1.1 million Americans will likely face another months-long wait before receiving the judge’s decision, according to Allsup. Allsup is the nation’s premier disability representation company and has helped more than 275,000 people receive their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. A review of Allsup data shows the wait time to learn if former workers will or won’t receive the insurance benefit now averages 78 days.
The wait time for post-hearing decisions to be issued has increased from an average 56 days in the fourth quarter of 2015 to 78 days in the first quarter of 2017, according to Allsup data. Social Security disability claimants are waiting an average 19 months to receive a hearing, and they do not receive their final decision until after the hearing, when the administrative law judge (ALJ) issues the results.
In addition, about 1 in 10 claimants, or 11%, are seeing waits of 120-180 days or more to receive their decisions after their hearing with ALJs.
“To have to wait even a month to get their decision after their hearing before an ALJ is just adding to the extreme hardship that people with disabilities already experience,” said Mike Stein, Allsup assistant vice president. “But to see that delay reach three to six months is terrible.
“Already, the hearing wait time has reached historic levels at nearly 600 days across the U.S., and now claimants are having to endure one more growing hurdle to get their claims decisions from Social Security,” Stein said.
Along with the national average wait of 583 days to a hearing—14 hearing offices now report waits of 700 or more days for a hearing. Congress recently designated $90 million in its federal budget for the Social Security Administration to address the nationwide hearing backlog.
To qualify for SSDI benefits, former workers must have paid FICA payroll taxes and worked five of the past 10 years. They must have a severe work-disrupting injury or illness that will last at least 12 months or is terminal. Applicants also must be under full retirement age (65-67).
People who can’t work any longer due to a disability and are planning to apply for disability benefits can improve their likelihood of avoiding the SSDI hearing backlog with expert representation from the beginning. Stein said many people who get help with the initial application could avoid some of the missteps that lead to a denial, and thereby avoid the appeals process and a hearing.
Allsup offers a convenient online tool, empower by Allsup®, which combines a Free SSDI Assessment for eligibility and Social Security disability application support, plus return to work assistance, for those who may medically stabilize and be able to go back to work.
Individuals applying for disability with Allsup can increase their approval odds by 50%, much higher than the national average.
People with disabilities can learn their likelihood of being eligible for SSDI benefits in about 15 minutes with empower by Allsup. The online Social Security disability application process includes Allsup’s SSDI expertise, user-friendly videos and online customer support. Claimants also can receive help returning to work with Allsup Employment Services by using the Ticket to Work program if they medically recover.