More than 1 million Americans are waiting for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge to find out if they are entitled to disability benefits after being denied initially. Most people who complete the appeals process will eventually win benefits, but many are so sick they die before receiving them. Approximately 10.5 million people receive Social Security disability benefits. An additional 8 million receive disability benefits from Supplemental Security Income, which is a disability program for poor people who do not qualify for Social Security. Last year, the SSA paid out $197 billion in disability benefits. In 2016, there were over 7,000 people on waitlists for hearings who were dead, according to a report by the SSA’s inspector general. The average wait time for a hearing is now 602 days. In 2012, it was less than a year. The SSA says it is working to reduce the backlog by hiring 500 new ALJs and over 600 support staff. But the budget has remained almost the same as it was since 2011, despite an additional 6 million people receiving either retirement or disability benefits from Social Security.
Disabled New Yorkers won big when Governor Cuomo recently signed bill (A7842/S6078) authored by Assembly member Richard Gottfried and Senator David Valesky. This bill allows New Yorkers to obtain their medical and hospital records at no cost to them when applying for public benefits. Jeffrey Freedman, Managing Attorney at Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC said “Applications for Social Security Disability, SSI, some veterans’ benefits, disability based Medicaid and other government programs require complete and accurate health records. We have been advocating on behalf of the disabled for a law such as this for over twenty years. ” The appeals process can be very difficult for those with mental or physical disabilities. Often, disabled applicants who would otherwise be eligible for benefits are denied if they can’t support their applications with thorough and timely medical records. By the Governor signing this bill into law, gaining access to medical records will be much simpler for all New Yorkers. Claimants being able to obtain free medical records will find it helpful for them to receive benefits they need and are entitled to.
According to the Social Security Administration, you must have an impairment that is severe enough to prevent you from doing substantial work. Also, the condition must last, or be expected to last, more than a year to meet the definition of who is disabled. Supplement Security Income is a more modest benefit that may be available to individuals with low income and resources. SSI covers the aged, those with severe disabilities, and people with very limited resources. Experienced attorneys can help you file your initial application or file your appeal if you are denied initially. These legal representatives work on a contingency basis and are not awarded any fees until your application is approved. Approximately one-third of all applications are denied initially. If your claim is rejected, you can schedule a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge who will review your case. Historically, having an experienced attorney help you with your appeal increases your chances of an approved claim at the hearing stage over those without representation. They understand the complicated application process and guidelines and are able to document your inability to perform other types of work. They also understand what kind of medical records are needed for the… Continue Reading Seek Assistance When Applying for Disability Benefits
If you applied for Social Security Disability benefits and were denied, you likely chose to appeal the decision. If so, two things you’ll need are patience and perseverance. Why? Because the average wait time between applying for a hearing and receiving it is 19.5 months. This time may vary depending on your location. You may wonder how the wait time rose from 353 days in 2012 to 545 in September, 2016 and to now 596 days. You might also wonder how pending hearings went from 700,000 in 2010 to 1,100,000 today. Although there are a number of reasons for this, the Social Security Administration is also blaming the Baby Boomers moving into their 50s and 60s. The good news is in 2015 the SSA developed a plan to reduce the heavy backlog. They hired an additional 264 judges in fiscal year 2016. However, due to hiring freezes, only 30 were added in fiscal 2017. When your hearing date arrives your chances of a favorable decision may have improved: 1) the process usually uncovers detailed and complete medical evidence and 2) sometimes an individual’s condition worsens during the wait period. Remain patient and continue to persevere.
Over the years he has been practicing in the area of Social Security Disability Law, attorney Kevin Bambury has seen many people in desperate financial circumstances while they waited to get their hearings with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). “One fellow was homeless, so he slept on his friend’s couch for two years before he received his benefits. Another woman ended up living in her mother’s basement,” Bambury said. “Yet another woman, who had worked at her job for 20 years, had to depend on her partner to pay all of their bills. Since her prescriptions were very costly, she went without rather than ask him to pay for them, which worsened her condition.” When workers who have paid into the system through their FICA taxes become disabled and can no longer work, they often expect Social Security Disability benefits to be readily available. This is not the case. Country-wide there is a backlog of 1.1 million people waiting to have a hearing before an ALJ. Nationwide, the average wait-time for that hearing is almost 20 months. In Buffalo and Rochester it hovers around 24 months. After the hearing, claimants wait an average of two to four months to get… Continue Reading Waiting for SSD benefits is devastating to claimants
The SSA released its quarterly data, and more than 1.1 million people are now waiting an average of 583 days for a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Nearly 50% of hearing offices report wait times of over 600 days, including 14 offices whose wait times exceed 700 days. Only 3 hearing offices had wait times over 600 days in 2015. Congress designated $90 million in the federal budget to help address the disability backlog by hiring additional ALJs and SSA staff.
The average retired worker will receive an additional $30 each month next year, since Social Security beneficiaries are expected to get a 2.2% cost of living increase. However, the trust fund that pays Social Security benefits is projected to run out by 2034, and the disability fund is expected to be depleted in 2028. The Medicare trust fund is expected to run out by 2029. Social Security pays benefits to 61 million Americans annually and paid $911 billion in benefits in 2016.
Americans wait an average of 600 days to receive a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge. Now they must wait an average of 78 additional days to find out whether they will receive those Social Security Disability benefits. This delay is an increase from 56 days in fourth quarter of 2015 to 78 days in the first quarter of 2017, with no end to the increase in sight. 11 percent of Americans are waiting 120-180 days or more to receive their decisions after their ALJ hearings, and 14 hearing offices have reported waits of 700 or more days for a hearing. The best way to avoid the increasing backlog is to seek professional help at the application stage.
Diabetes is a challenging disease that can lead to a number of different complications, as Patrick Fisher discovered. Unfortunately, Patrick lost his leg to the disease, which made it impossible for him to put in the eight hour days he was used to working at the local Walmart. Faced with losing the income that supported him and his wife, Debi, Patrick applied for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. “I was turned down on my initial application, even though it seemed pretty obvious to me I could no longer work,” he said. “So I talked to Kevin Bambury at Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys PLLC, and they took my case.” Bambury and his staff collected the medical evidence and employment history needed to prove Patrick’s case and asked for a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Patrick had been paying into Social Security while he was employed, so he qualified to receive benefits. It took a year and a half, but Patrick was awarded full SSD benefits. “It was challenging trying to make ends meet for those 18 months — and just waiting to hear the decision was stressful,” Patrick said. “But the people at the firm were great. They answered every… Continue Reading Complications of diabetes make it impossible for client to continue in his job
Less than half of the people in the United States who apply for disability benefits ultimately receive them, and they wait nearly 600 days to even receive an initial hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge. Proposed changes to the process include giving equal weight to evidence from the claimant’s treating physician and from a medical consultant who provides a brief examination or review of medical records. For conditions that manifest themselves in difficult ways, like lupus or schizophrenia, it’s likely that a one-time consultation by a paid medical consultant will not uncover the true effects a disease has on a claimant. More initially denied claims will lead to an increased hearings backlog. Currently, more than one million people across the country are waiting for hearings, and the SSD’s budget has been cut by 10% since 2010.