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SSDI Woes As 30,000 Die Waiting For Benefits


Those who have disabilities or life-threatening diseases may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). These benefits help replace income for those who are physically and mentally unable to work. But the hard part is actually waiting for the benefits to arrive.

Getting approved for SSDI is not an easy task. It can be a long wait, with many people literally dying for approval. In fact, 30,000 people died while waiting for Social Security disability decisions during fiscal year 2023.

So what is causing this?  It’s a customer service crisis caused by understaffing, which is ultimately caused by a lack of adequate funding. So the root cause is a money issue, which explains many issues we face in today’s world.

This becomes a money issue for claimants as well. A disability claimant who is unable to work is in essence waiting for income and health insurance. Nobody can hold on forever. Even an extra one-month wait could result in an untreated disease ending the person’s life.

The 30,000 people who died were waiting for a decision from the Social Security Administration (SSA) at the initial, reconsideration, or hearing levels. On average, more than 1.6 million people were waiting for a decision from the SSA.

Last year was the first time the SSA calculated the statistic regarding the number of claimants who died while waiting for benefits approval. Although the agency cannot prevent all deaths among those waiting for disability benefits, it should work to reduce that number.

The wait time for an initial disability decision is close to eight months. The SSA has a backlog of 1.1 million pending initial disability claims. Those who appeal a decision and ask for the SSA to reconsider their initial decision for a disability claim have to wait another seven months. It’s an even longer wait for those who request a hearing, with a wait of one year.

The Social Security Commissioner is focusing on the buildup of disability claims, as well as  wait times for the agency’s 1-800 number and problems with benefit overpayments and underpayments. Reduction in staffing combined with the rising number of customers are contributing to these key issues.

For disability determinations, staffing problems are especially challenging. At play are both attrition and the fact that state offices make initial disability decisions. These state offices are largely operating on trainees. Funding is also a huge problem, as Congress allows the SSA to operate on about 1.2% overhead of the benefits sent out annually.

Learn More About Social Security Disability Benefits

Time is of the essence when waiting for SSDI benefits. The wait can be so long that claimants die before getting approval.

Waiting a long time for benefits? Get the help you need from a White Plains Social Security Disability lawyer from The Law Office of Michael Lawrence Varon. We will work hard to get you the benefits you need and deserve in a timely manner. To schedule a free consultation, call (914) 228-1770 or fill out the online form.



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