Recently, the Baltimore Sun published an article indicating that people nationwide were growing frustrated with the government and likely to become much more upset as a result of lengthy delays in dealings with the Social Security Administration. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has had to cut the hours of their employees and limit appointment times significantly. This has occurred as a result of the sequester.
Our Social Security disability attorneys know that those hit hardest by delays and backlogs with the Social Security Administration are the disabled. Those seeking disability benefits already had an average wait time of between three and five months to have a claim approved, assuming that there were no problems and that the claim was approved the first time without the need to appeal (otherwise the wait is much longer). Now, with fewer workers at the SSA and with reduced appointment times, people waiting for life-sustaining disability income may need to wait even longer and cope with even more problems and hurdles.
Sequester Makes Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits Harder
Individuals applying for benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program or through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, will generally need to visit the office of their local SSA to obtain their application, to submit paperwork and documentation and to ask questions about their claims. Unfortunately, because of the sequester, the SSA has had to limit the hours that its offices are open and limit the number of appointments scheduled. Those who need to start the lengthy application process or who need help from an SSA representative could thus find themselves waiting days, weeks or even months just to get a simple application or question answered.
Once a person has applied for benefits, the claim will need to be reviewed by a disability claims examiner. With fewer employees at the SSA, it could take a longer period of time for the claim to be approved, even when the application is completed perfectly. During this time, typically a disabled individual is not working at all since part of the criteria for qualifying for benefits is that you are too impaired to work. Waiting months to get an answer on qualifying for benefits when you have no money coming in can be a terrible burden.
If your claim is denied, or if you have any questions about any of your benefits, then you’ll also have longer wait times for appeals or to get your questions answered. An appeals process that already took an average of a year could take even longer.
All of these consequences have occurred as a result of automatic spending cuts that went into effect in March. The spending cuts were intended to be so unpleasant that the politicians in charge would be forced to agree to a deal to cut spending in a more sensible way. When lawmakers failed to agree, the harsh cuts went into effect and now lawmakers cannot compromise on how to replace them with alternatives that make sense. As such, the cuts to Social Security offices are likely here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. This means that while benefits checks go out as normal and as promised, anyone making a new claim suffers.
For those applying for benefits, having a lawyer representing you may be your best option so you can get questions answered quickly by someone who knows the disability benefits system and so you can get the help you may need to move your application forward as quickly as you can.