I just got back from visiting family in my home state of Hawai’i. The people, the beauty, the “mana,” (loosely translated as energy or power) of that truly special place always refreshes my spirit and helps me focus on what’s truly important in life.
After 12 days in paradise, I returned to work today, to read Allsup’s latest news release on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) backlog. Unfortunately, the backlog’s existence is not news. What is remarkable is that it is at an all time high—Americans with severe disabilities are waiting an average of nearly 600 days for benefits they paid for while working.
Nationwide, more than 1.1 million people are waiting an average 583 days for a hearing before an administrative law judge.
The backlog was already an issue in 2009, when Allsup surveyed individuals going through the SSDI appeals process. Of those surveyed, 90 percent said they faced negative repercussions while waiting for their SSDI award. These included:
- Stress on family – 63 percent
- Worsening illness – 53 percent
- Draining of retirement/savings – 35 percent
- Lost health insurance – 24 percent
- Missed mortgage payments – 14 percent
- Foreclosure – 6 percent
- Bankruptcy – 5 percent
In Hawai’i, we tell each other to, “hang loose”—life is short, so appreciate every day. According to the Social Security Administration, one in five men and nearly one in six women who obtain SSDI die within five years. Helping people obtain their SSDI benefits in a timely manner would go a long way to improving the quality of life for individuals with severe disabilities, so they could indeed, appreciate each day.
As the SSA and other organizations work to address the backlog, my advice for people who need to apply for disability benefits is to get expert help at the application level. Most people are denied at this level, but those who are approved avoid the SSDI backlog altogether.
empower by Allsup® is an online tool that can help individuals get expert help right away, beginning with an assessment that helps determine their likelihood of qualifying for SSDI benefits.. If you are unsure whether or not you should file for SSDI, or if you even qualify, using empower by Allsup is a free, convenient way to help you make an informed decision.
I bid a fond aloha to my family and friends this week. On behalf of individuals with chronic illnesses and severe disabilities and their families, I’d like to say goodbye to the SSDI backlog as well.
What do you think about the SSDI backlog? Post your experiences, comments and suggestions and see what other organizations are doing on the Banish the Backlog Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/banishthebacklog/.