Suffering from a disabling injury or illness can be life changing. You might go from being a fairly healthy, independent person to being someone who needs powerful medication, ongoing care and lifestyle accommodations, which can be incredibly difficult to cope with.
To make life just a little bit easier for people in this situation, there are disability benefits available to people who qualify. However, the process of securing these benefits can be much more complicated than people expect. And thanks to a recent federal hiring freeze announced by President Trump, that process isn’t getting any easier.
To understand this problem, it can be helpful to understand the basic application process. If you are disabled, you can apply for benefits. The Social Security Administration reviews your application and makes a ruling. Many applications are initially denied, meaning most people will then go through the appeals process, which consists of four levels.
As it stands, the average number of days it takes for an appeal to be processed is 526 days. This lengthy wait time has been attributed to huge backlogs, overworked SSA agents and judges, and understaffing. The freeze on federal hiring means that the SSA cannot hire more judges to tackle the backlog.
As noted in this Bloomberg article, between the ever-growing number of SSDI applicants and the freeze on hiring, the backlog of SSDI appeals will only continue to grow and the wait times will only get longer and longer.
Considering all the obstacles that already stand between you and the benefits you need, it could be a costly mistake to try to navigate the application and/or appeals process on your own. Without guidance from someone who is familiar with the Social Security system and the disability benefits program, you could wind up stuck with additional delays that could have otherwise been avoided.
If you have questions or concerns about SSDI applications or appeals, it would be wise to discuss them with a Social Security disability attorney.