Soaring Social Security Disability Wait Times – And Why It Is Important to Hire an Experienced Social Security Attorney

Feb 16, 2024Social Security Law0 comments

Soaring Wait Times for Social Security Disability Decisions

In the last eight years, the wait time for a Social Security Disability claim decision more than doubled.  According to data from Social Security’s Office of Research, Statistics and Policy, average wait time of a disability claim from application to initial decision sat at 110 days in 2016.  That number has now more than doubled, with the 2023 annual report showing an average of 225 days of wait time from application to initial decision.

Many applicants, even many of those who undoubtedly deserve to be approved, are denied, and must file an appeal.  The first step of the appeals process is a “reconsideration,” which on average takes 183 more days, compared to 98 days in 2016.  If an applicant is denied at reconsideration, the next step is to request a hearing before an administrative law judge, which now takes an additional 372 days, compared to 195 days in 2016.  In total, the process from application to hearing decision (if a hearing is needed) now takes 2 years, 1 month and 20 days!  This same process took 1 year, 4 months and 18 days in 2016.


Causes of Longer Wait Times

There are many factors that have caused disability wait times to go up so drastically in the last several years.  Initial disability claims are processed and decided by state agencies run by each individual state called Disability Determination Services (DDS).  Nationally, because of underfunding, DDS workforce has decreased by 16% over the last ten years.  In some states like Florida, the DDS workforce has declined by more than 25% over the last ten years, especially troubling, when you consider the state population grew by over 18% in that same timeframe.

One of the other major causes of prolonged wait times is how complicated the disability process has become.  Regulations have changed drastically over the years with respect to what each applicant must prove to be approved for Disability benefits.  These changes have made the process not only more confusing for the applicant, but also require much more in depth analysis by agency workers and judges who make the decisions.


How to Cut Your Wait Time For Disability

There are several ways you can cut your wait time for a disability decision and improve your chances of being approved without going through long, tedious appeals processes.  First, hiring an experienced Social Security Disability attorney will put you in the best position to be approved and to be approved as quickly as possible.  A Social Security Disability attorney knows the ins and outs of the program, to ensure that the information needed is readily available, before even being asked for by the agency.  Having documentation, including medical records, your doctor’s medical opinion in writing, and your work history information available early in the process is the best way to expedite your claim and make sure you are not waiting two or more years for a decision from Social Security Disability.

If your application for benefits is denied and you need to appeal, an experienced Social Security Disability attorney can ensure that all the correct forms are filed, all the proper evidence is available to the judge and ensure that you are able to attend the hearing in the way most comfortable for you.  Since the start of the COVID Pandemic, Social Security has offered, and continues to offer remote hearing options, where you can appear for your hearing by video through Microsoft Teams or by telephone in the comfort of your own home.  Agreeing to a remote hearing option can substantially reduce your wait time


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Other helpful resources