Almost two-third of all first time applications for Social Security Disability benefits are denied. The good news is that most of these applications are approved in the appeals process. The bad news for Colorado residents is that it can take up to two years for the first administrative hearing to take place.
The number of people receiving benefits through the two programs administered by the Social Security Administration has gone from 11.5 million in 2005 to 18.5 million in 2015. More than a million people are awaiting an administrative hearing decision at any given time, given the immense backlog in what the SSA termed a ‘public service crisis.’ In the meantime, applicants oftentimes deplete their retirement savings, lose their homes, and even declare bankruptcy as they try to make ends meet without holding down a job.
Once applications are denied, there is a good chance they can be approved if they reach the higher courts through the appeals process. But while people are navigating the process, they are not working to earn money to make ends meet. Even when SSD claims are approved, people typically get less than $1,200 a month. This may be enough to keep a roof over one’s head, but it’s nothing to write home about.
There are a number of reasons for the SSA backlog, such as inadequate staffing and too few judges, insufficient funding, and an increase in applications to process. There is, however, another issue that complicates matters: people end up getting confused between the two programs and apply for the wrong one. It can be frustrating to waste six valuable months simply because paperwork was incomplete or the wrong application was submitted. This is where the help of an experienced attorney can be valuable.