Wait times for decisions regarding Social Security Disability Benefits have historically been high in Ohio courts, but since 2008, the average wait time was reduced from a mean of 23 months down to 16 months. Although the federal government has made efforts to reduce the waiting period for determination of claims, a significant backlog in the number of undecided disability claims continue to cause claimants considerable and undue financial hardship.
According to Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue in a Senate oversight committee field hearing held in Ohio on Monday, the agency has been working hard to reduce the backlog of Social Security Disability Benefits claims. He said that the agency has 1,400 administrative law judges hearing appeals in 150 offices located nationwide, and that they have hired even more employees and are opening 25 new offices. He sadly admitted that the 2013 goal to reduce the wait time down to 9 months will likely be set aside with recession predictions and an aging population.
Long wait periods for a disability benefits hearing can cause significant hardship upon claimants during the time when the disability benefits income is most necessary. “We know people are losing their homes without that income, especially when we’re talking about the primary bread winner,” Dan Allsup, director of communications for Allsup, Inc., a disability representation company told interviewers.
United States Senator George Voinovich from Ohio spoke out at the hearing about the approximately 2 million people in the United States awaiting a decision on whether or not they will receive the income they desperately need. He said that his “heart goes out to them.”
Source: Dayton Daily News “Senators prod agency in Ohio meeting on disability” Thomas J. Sheeran 11/15/10