Long Wait for Disability Hearings in San Diego
Posted on behalf of Phillips Disability, P.C. on Dec 13, 2016 in SSD
If you are no longer able to work because of a disabling condition, Social Security Disability benefits are an important lifeline to the financial resources you need. Unfortunately, many applicants are left waiting for more than a year to find out if they are approved, leaving bills and medical care out of reach for some.
According to data recently released by the Social Security Administration (SSA), the estimated wait time in San Diego to receive a disability hearing is 18 months, or approximately 540 days. That is one month longer than the national average of 17 months. It is, however, less than some regions. The longest wait time in Buffalo, NY, is 25 months.
The SSA estimates that approximately 1.1 million people are currently waiting for a disability hearing. At the end of October, 8,853 San Diegans were awaiting hearings. That backlog, which has always existed but recently grew, is mostly attributed to budget cuts and understaffing at the SSA.
One of the areas the SSA is lacking in staff is in the number of administrative law judges available to review each case. There are 1,500 judges nationwide, but only 11 in San Diego, which is not nearly enough to deal with the large case load that spiked during the recent recession and continues to grow as baby boomers age.
In 2015, the SSA received 764,000 hearing requests and only issued about 663,000 decisions.
In order to get to the hearing level of the disability appeals process, an applicant’s claim must first be denied by the state. If it is denied again during a reconsideration of the original claim, the applicant can request a hearing before an administrative law judge.
The extensive wait times for a hearing can leave many applicants without any kind of income, often forcing them to go without money to pay for important medical care, food and housing. Many applicants become homeless during the process.
Although a disability attorney cannot move your claim to the front of the line, we can ensure that your application is complete and accurate the first time it is submitted, giving you a significantly increased chance of receiving an approval upon first applying for benefits, rather than having to wait for any appeal.
If you are considering applying for disability or if your claim has already been denied, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced San Diego disability lawyer. Our attorneys offer free consultation and do not get paid unless you do.