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Social Security funding increase directed at disability backlog

The backlog for processing Social Security disability claims is a well-known and well-documented problem. This blog recently discussed how important it is to understand how to qualify for Social Security disability benefits and to be familiar with the application process. Because the process can be complex and lengthy, it helps to understand how claims for Social Security benefits are evaluated but some recent good news may help address some of the backlog.

Applicants for Social Security disability benefits, which includes health insurance and a monthly payment, wait an average of 600 days for a judge to determine if they will receive the important benefits. In all, the backlog for processing Social Security disability (SSD) claims extends to over 1 million applicants. Fortunately, a funding increase for the Social Security Administration, recently passed by Congress, may help with the backlog.

Funding for the Social Security Administration was increased by $480 million which brings its total funding to $12 billion. Approximately $100 million of the increase will go towards reducing the backlog of Social Security disability claims waiting to be heard by an administrative law judge. A hearing before a judge is considered an appeal level of the claims process in some states so applicants should be familiar with the application and appeals processes for SSD benefits in their state.

Because $280 million of the funding increase will be directed to improve the agency's information systems, allowing judges to progress through their caseloads more quickly, and $100 million will be directed towards hiring more judges and expanding support staff, it is hoped that the funding increase will help reduce the backlog of claims waiting to be heard. In recent years, judges have gone from deciding 12 claims a week to 10 or fewer. As always, it is useful for a disabled individual seeking benefits to be familiar with the claims process, and what is requires, in order to initially submit the most thorough claim possible for the oftentimes badly-needed benefits.

Source: The Washington Post, "Spending bill addresses crushing backlog of federal disability claims," Terrence McCoy, March 28, 2018

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