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SSA working to reduce wait times for Social Security benefits

Anyone who has applied for Social Security Disability benefits in Columbus knows how frustrating the process can be. Sadly, that frustration is not just limited to Ohio. There is a national backlog of both Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income applications.

Many states have more than 10,000 applications waiting to be reviewed, with some states currently holding more than 50,000. In total, there are currently more than 722,000 cases pending nationally.

The numbers are alarming, but the reality of it is even more frightening. Each case that is pending is more than just a number in sad statistic. It also represents a frustrating reality of someone who is injured, unable to work and in desperate need of financial support.

However, rather than receiving the financial support that is promised through government, those individuals are left with little or nothing.

Some applicants have discovered that working with an experienced lawyer can help speed up the process. Although that is true, it does not mean that their applications will be approved overnight.

Over the past two decades, the number of individuals applying for benefits has skyrocketed. Sadly, that has also had a direct correlation of the amount of time people need to wait. On average, that wait has increased by more than 500 days - nearly one and a half years.

Thankfully, there is also good news. The Social Security Administration understands the strain their lag puts on applicants. The SSA is focused on eliminating the backlog of hearings. Moreover, despite receiving almost 100,000 more requests in 2010 than in 2009, the SSA was still able to reduce their backlog. By the end of last year, the average hearing processing time was less than 400 days, which is the first time that has happened in the last six years.

Hopefully the SSA will continue working on that track, so individuals who need Social Security Disability benefits will be able to receive the financial support they need.

Source: Baltimore City Paper, "Wait for Social Security benefits is getting longer," Edward Ericson Jr., 22 June 2011

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