It is no secret that it takes some disability applicants more than two years to receive their first payment upon applying for Social Security Disability benefits. In 2008, the average time to process a Social Security Disability claim was 480 days. When disabled workers are struggling financially and have no way of making ends meet, waiting 480 days for disability payments to begin is unacceptable, and the Social Security Administration is beginning recognize this fact.
The main reason for the significant wait times is the enormous backlog of Social Security Disability claims in the Social Security system. In 2008, the number of pending disability cases was at an all-time high of more than 700,000. Since then, claims have been increasing and the backlog is getting even worse.
As of this year, several measures are being taken to address the Social Security backlog, one of which is the Economic Recovery Bill that was passed by Congress. This bill includes a number of provisions that may be able to expedite the processing of Social Security Disability applications and reduce the total outstanding number of disability claims.
The Economic Recovery Bill
The Economic Recovery Bill has allocated $500 million to help the Social Security Administration process the increasing number of Social Security Disability claims that it is receiving each year. Hopefully, this funding will prevent the existing backlog of claims from getting worse even though applications for disability benefits will be on the rise.
The Bill is also providing the Social Security Administration with $400 million to modernize the SSA's technology. The antiquated National Computer Center will become a thing of the past and new technology will be implemented in order to help the Social Security Administration process claims more quickly and efficiently.
The Potential for Results
Despite the major investments being made by the government in Social Security Administration in hopes of reducing the backlog of Social Security Disability claims, many people are skeptical of the SSA’s ability to effectively implement procedures and technologies to help reduce systematic inefficiencies.
It appears that measures are already being taken to reduce the backlog and the new funding will only expedite the backlog reduction if the funds are handled properly. With new technology to process claims more effectively, more administrative law judges on staff to hear disability cases, and additional ODAR offices to process Social Security Disability appeals, we may well see the backlog begin to decrease over time. While nothing will eliminate the backlog of claims overnight, such steps provide certainly provide hope for Social Security Disability recipients and applicants nationwide.