If you’ve been denied Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in Texas, you will wait, on average, more than a year before you receive a hearing from an administrative law judge to review the decision. Some Texas offices have a backlog approaching 20 months. Sounds outrageous, doesn’t it?
The fact of the matter is that, in Texas, you are doing better than most of the rest of country. Nationally, more than a million workers are waiting for SSDI hearings – and will continue waiting for an average of more than 600 days before their benefits appeals are heard. Each year, 10,000 or so claimants die while waiting to see if they will be awarded the disability benefits they spent their careers paying for.
Like Social Security retirement benefits, SSDI benefits are paid from a fund that is created from workers’ withholdings. Most workers will never need SSDI, but the ones who do need it have suffered an injury that affects their ability to continue working. Trouble is, the SSDI claims system is overburdened and inconsistent.
The Social Security Administration may take months to process the initial claim. If it is rejected, a claimant must request a hearing to have the decision reviewed by an ALJ. The wait for a hearing, as noted above, will take well over a year. According to a January report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, once a case is heard, there is no guarantee that two different ALJs who hear cases with almost identical facts will reach the same conclusion. This lack of consistency from case to case results in extremely unfair results.
In light of the GAO’s findings, the SSA pledged to take steps to improve its processes, however it’s unclear when the SSD claims procedures will be fixed. Meanwhile, according to GAO, the best thing a claimant can do to ensure success in the SSD claims process is to obtain representation. Claimants with a representative – like a seasoned Social Security Disability attorney – were three times more likely to succeed in their claims than those lacking representation. Visit our firm’s dedicated Social Security Disability web page to see how our representation can help you with the SSD claims process.