Integrating Social Security and Medicare for Cost-Effective Solutions

Social Security Disability Program Gets Funding For Hearing Backlog

Allsup explains importance of SSDI representation with disability insurance application as hearing backlog gets attention 

Belleville, Illinois — Jan. 11, 2017 — The long line of claimants waiting for their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) hearings is receiving attention from Congress, according to Allsup, the nation’s leading provider of SSDI representation services. Congress designated about $150 million for activities to address the hearing backlog in last month’s continuing resolution, which extends federal administrative funding through April 28, 2017.

This injection of funding—specifically to address the backlog—for the Social Security Administration (SSA) could be used to hire administrative law judges, support staff and additional steps to more quickly reduce the backlog of 1.1 million people currently waiting for a decision on their SSDI claims.

“Disability applicants who have appealed and are waiting for a hearing need to know the agency has more resources and may be able to reduce the backlog sooner than the original projection of 2020. On average, SSDI applicants are waiting about 26 months from their time of initial application for a hearing decision,” said Mike Stein, assistant vice president of claims, Allsup.

“Hopefully, some of these dollars can be applied to overtime and other staffing to adjudicate claims more quickly,” Stein said. “This is critical as thousands more people fall into financial and health devastation while waiting.”

The SSA is hiring more judges to reduce wait times long term. The agency exceeded its hiring goal with 264 new judges in fiscal year 2016. In comparison, it hired 202 judges in FY 2015 and 72 judges in FY 2014. However, Stein explained, it takes time for judges to complete training and start helping to reduce the disability claims backlog. “Unfortunately, the national average wait time is 543 days, and tens of thousands of claimants are looking at waits of 600 and 700 days,” Stein explained. Six hearing offices now report wait times of more than 700 days.

Faster News About SSDI Eligibility

Individuals who are thinking about their disability insurance application have important choices to make, Stein said.

“It’s to your benefit to try to avoid a disability hearing by getting help early with your Social Security disability application,” Stein explained.

To help people with their Social Security disability application, Allsup offers a dual purpose online tool called empower by Allsup®. Allsup has a 50 percent success rate at the application level, compared to the national average of 33 percent. It may be possible to avoid appeals and a hearing altogether if the SSA approves benefits with the initial SSDI application.

With a few minutes, individuals can learn their likelihood of being eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Anyone who successfully completes the assessment can start their disability insurance application immediately with Allsup as their representative. They also can learn more about Social Security’s return-to-work incentives for the SSDI program.