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A look at the numbers: reasons why SSD backlog is growing

Whether you've read about it on our blog or in the news, chances are you've heard something mentioned about the Social Security Administration's increasing backlog of disability claims. At the first step in the process, which is where a person actually submits their claim for benefits, there are approximately 633,000 cases waiting to hear a decision. But as frequent readers of our blog know, this isn't the only step in the process.

If a claim for disability benefits is denied on the first try, an applicant has the right to appeal. This is where some experts say the largest part of the backlog is occurring. According to a recent Washington Post article, there are more than 990,000 appeals currently awaiting a judge's decision. In some cases, these are appeals of appeals.

For the average case, wait time can exceed 420 days. That's more than a year waiting for benefits that can help cover medical bills and offset the cost of daily expenses. In a number of cases, an applicant's disability may be so severe that it can force them out of their job. This is even more so problematic because many applicants are then unable to financially support themselves while they wait for a decision to be made on their claim.

Reasons for why the SSD backlog is growing range from an increase in the number of qualifying baby boomers to archaic rules and regulations that complicate the application and appeals process. One thing is probably very clear to our New Jersey readers though and it's that the backlog is negatively impacting a lot of Americans, which is a concern politicians should not readily ignore.

Source: The Washington Post, "'It's just maddening. There's nothing you can do.'" David A. Fahrenthold, Oct. 18, 2014

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