The pressures faced by the Social Security Administration have been well-documented by both the news media and the watchdog agencies that monitor government functions, like the Government Accounting Office. In Texas, for example, claimants who have applied for benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program must sometimes wait months for an initial decision. If a hearing is required, the wait time can extend to well over a year.
The reason that the SSA has found itself in this service quagmire is a combination of factors. As the "baby boomer" generation has aged, more claimants are requesting SSD benefits, as well as Social Security Retirement and Supplemental Security Income. In spite of ballooning benefit rolls, the agency has been stymied by budget cuts and hiring freezes.
Clearly, this combination of factors has stymied the SSA's ability to deliver the services that are its mandate. Fortunately, this crisis reached the ears of lawmakers. In March, Congress ignored a request from the White House to fund SSA at the same levels. Instead, as part of the recent omnibus spending bill, SSA received a $480 million budget increase under the spending package. This will not be an immediate fix for the backlogs in Texas and elsewhere, but it is a start down the right path.
In the meantime, there are a few things SSD claimants can do to attempt to help their cases. One such thing is to consult an experienced Social Security Disability attorney. A lawyer can help ensure that the initial application is filled out correctly and that all medical issues are correctly documented. In the event that an appeal is necessary, a representative can triple a claimant's chances of success, according to the GAO.
Source: St. Louis Post Dispatch, "U.S. Social Security funding should ease customer-service crisis," Mark Miller Reuters, April 1, 2018.