The number of pending initial claims for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits has been backlogged for some years, but with the record setting 230,000 new applications for SSD received by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in May 2012, the wait time for reviews to be completed and eligibility determinations to be made is expected to increase significantly. In fact, the SSA anticipates pending claims to reach more than 860,000 before the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30, 2012) and more than 1.1 million by the end of the 2013 fiscal year (Sept. 30, 2013).
What this means for new applicants is an increased wait for initial claims to be reviewed. Anyone proceeding through to a reconsideration review or appeal will also experience an increased wait time for a determination of eligibility to be made.
While there has always been a need for putting together as thorough and complete an SSD application as possible, that need just increased tenfold. Any discrepancies in the application, missing medical documentation, or insufficient supporting statements from treating physicians can substantially increase the wait time for a new applicant. Likewise, failure to provide the appropriate information for a reconsideration review can also lead to further delays.
Because the wait for a decision on eligibility increases as the number of pending claims does, new SSD applicants should consider seeking assistance when filing their initial claim for disability benefits. Having the assistance of a Social Security lawyer who is familiar with the application, review and appeals processes can help.
Because the wait time for SSD benefits will increase as the number of pending claims also increases, it becomes even more crucial that applicants complete their claims thoroughly and with the assistance of a seasoned Social Security attorney.
Applicants should also do their homework before applying, by learning as much as they can about the application process and spending the time necessary to do things right the first time. They should also put the work in to collect all the necessary documentation. Taking shortcuts with work history details, medical documentation collection and other crucial pieces of a thorough application will only mean further delays. Ensuring your application is sound before submitting it is key to shortening your wait for a disability determination from the SSA.
Know the details of your own claim and ensure you are consistent in the information you provide related to that claim. If you have to fill out multiple forms and participate in SSD hearings or interviews, consistency in the details you provide can mean the difference between further reviews and delays or receiving the benefits to which you may be entitled now.
Even with significant time and effort put into completing your application, the wait for the initial claim review to be completed will be significant. Most states have a serious backlog, with thousands of pending claims waiting to be reviewed, and that was even before the recent spike in the number of new applications reported by the SSA. So, be patient and don’t lose hope. You may also wish to seek professional assistance in navigating the SSD claim and review processes by hiring a Social Security disability attorney. Doing so can remove some of the burden and stress from your shoulders, and most SSD lawyers work on contingency, meaning you’ll not be charged upfront for their services and only need to pay if/when your claim is approved and you receive retroactive benefit payments.