When deciding to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, potential applicants are in for a rude awakening when it comes to wait times. Those more experienced in the bureaucratic process are well aware of the time it will take for approval that usually follows immediate and oftentimes disheartening rejections.
Countless reasons for continuing delays
Whether approved or denied, applicants face a lengthy process for approval. The AARP reports the following:
- A record-breaking average of close to 200 days, three times longer than a decade ago
- The 800 number with wait times of 31 minutes, ten times longer than a decade ago
- Final decisions are at more than two years
- A total of more than 10,000 people die every year waiting for a final decision
AARP cites the following for the lack of expedient customer service:
- Increased number of claims
- Significant employee turnover
- Pandemic-driven hiring freezes leading to a seven percent staffing decline
- Long lines at field offices
All signs point to a lack of funding, in spite of Social Security Administration Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi’s requests for more than $15 billion for fiscal year 2023. That amount would represent a significant increase from 2022, when Congress provided funding to cover out-of-control increases in fixed expenses.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, staffing levels have plummeted to levels not seen in 25 years.
While proposed solutions are plentiful regarding the SSA budget, tangible action has yet to be taken. The 20223 fiscal year (starting in October) does not have an appropriation bill pending for the SSA. At this point, the best option is a continuing resolution to avoid partial service shutdowns.
Delayed benefits do not equate to no benefits. A lengthy and frustrating process can be eased with the help of a skilled and seasoned attorney with in-depth insight and experience with complex applications.