Anyone who has applied for government assistance or benefits at some point in their lives knows it’s a lengthy process. Making multiple phone calls, listening to hold music, navigating through automated phone systems, leaving voice mails, scheduling and rescheduling appointments, and of course completing paperwork can make the process confusing if not downright frustrating.
The same goes for applying for Social Security disability benefits.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has been experiencing a hiring freeze. Not only has the SSA not hired new employees, but several have left or retired. By the end of 2013 the SSA will have lost upwards of 9,000 employees over the past 3 years. All the while the SSA has seen an increase in the volume of claims.
All of these factors combined have caused a significant slowdown in claim processing time. The understaffed Disability Determination Service (DDS) is taking twice as long to review medical records for disability claimants. Depending on location, Social Security disability applicants may have to wait at least 180 to 270 days for the DDS to review a claim.
Social Security disability applicants can expect to wait on the phone for a long time before speaking with a live person when calling their local SSA office. Calling the National Toll Free number to check the status of a claim yields the same results. Furthermore, the information applicants receive from the national line may not be current.
In addition to being caught in an automated phone system “black hole”, what makes matters worse is claim managers do not give out their work email. Even something as simple as rescheduling an appointment or hearing can take a long time.
When filing a claim for Social Security disability benefits it is generally a good policy for applicants to frequently follow up and make sure their claim didn’t “fall through the cracks.” Being proactive won’t necessarily speed up or expedite the processing of a claim, but it undoubtedly keeps the claim on track and gives applicants peace of mind that their documents were not lost.
Part of being proactive means returning forms and paperwork in the requested amount of time. Applicants for Social Security disability benefits may have to make multiple calls to their doctors and physicians to ensure they sent medical records to the SSA on time.
Due to the backlog of claims at the SSA and DDS, sitting back and waiting for a claim to be approved is a good way to significantly increase the chances that documents become lost. This may ultimately increase the amount of time it takes to obtain benefits.
An experienced Social Security lawyer who focuses their practice on Social Security disability benefits can help ensure the SSA does not lose a disability claim. The Law Office of Jeffrey Scholnick has decades of experience handling the Social Security disability application process for clients. Applying for Social Security disability benefits shouldn’t have to be frustrating. Applicants have everything to gain by working with an experienced Social Security lawyer.