Belleville, Illinois — Sept. 7, 2017 — The following is a statement by Jim Allsup, chairman and CEO of Allsup, a national disability representation organization, about Wednesday’s House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee hearing on the massive backlog within the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program.
“The plan the Social Security Administration offered today does not go far enough to clear the backlog of nearly 1.1 million Americans with disabilities who are trapped awaiting a hearing to see if they are eligible to receive disability benefits. The agency’s proposal to halve the disgraceful 596-day wait for an SSDI hearing by 2022 is wholly inadequate. More must be done.
“The ever-growing wait time is longer than the infamous backlog ever was for people waiting to see a doctor at a Veterans Affairs hospital. Worse, the long wait for a hearing is on top of the 4-month to 1-year period that it takes to get through the initial phases of the Social Security disability process – before an individual knows whether he or she even needs a hearing.
“The number of people waiting in the SSDI backlog has increased 58 percent to nearly 1.1 million from 705,000 since fiscal year 2010, a situation that hasn’t been helped by the fact that the Social Security Administration hasn’t had a Senate-confirmed leader since 2013.
“Chairman Johnson and his committee deserve high praise for highlighting the unacceptable situation with SSDI. Too many families have suffered and thousands of eligible claimants have died waiting. Thankfully, Congress has now demanded that the Social Security Administration must do better. Lawmakers must continue to press the agency to find and implement ways to end this national embarrassment – and sooner than 2022.”
Facts about the Disability Hearing Backlog
The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) hearing backlog has reached catastrophic levels:
Almost 1.1 million people are waiting an average of 596 days for an in-person hearing. SSA projects this will increase to 605 days by the end of September.
In addition, most of these individuals have waited more than 213 days at the previous application and reconsideration levels, totaling 809 days.
Seventy percent of those waiting in the hearing backlog are former workers who paid FICA payroll taxes for their disability insurance benefits. They worked an average of 22 years. According to the SSA, 36% of those seeking a hearing are former workers (SSDI); 34% are dual SSDI and SSI claimants; and 29% are SSI-only claimants.
The SSA’s conservative estimate is that in FY 2016 8,699 people died while waiting for their hearing.
According to the SSA, individuals wait 85 days (FY Q2 2017) after their hearing for a decision and to learn if they have or have not been awarded benefits, up 23% (69 days in FY Q1 2016).