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 the decision from the ALJ on their case, and then four to six weeks before their first benefit check arrives.
“This waiting period is financially devastating to most people,” Bambury said. “They may have no income coming in because they can’t work. They quickly run through any savings they may have had because of medical expenses (most lose their insurance when they stop working) they end up losing their homes, cars, and going without medical treatments that they desperately need.”
Not only is the wait time hard on finances, the stress and lack of medical care often makes claimants sicker than they were when they applied.
“The only way to ensure you will not wait any longer than necessary, is to retain an experienced attorney to help with your claim right from the start,” Bambury said. “We know what is needed to prove to the Social Security Administration that you are truly disabled and deserve benefits. We will get the right documentation, the right medical evidence and submit everything in the right way so that there are no hang ups in the processing of your case.”
To qualify for SSD, you must have worked five of the last 10 years and have an illness or injury that prevents you from working at your former job or another job in the local economy. Your disability must last 12 months or longer.