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Social Security appeals are taking longer than usual

The trauma and stress that comes with disability is a difficult, life-altering and scary experience, especially considering the financial consequences of disability. This is why the government created social security disability benefits. Unfortunately, a person experiencing disability may have a claim denied. When a claim is denied, the aggrieved may file an appeal to challenge the denial. Recent news indicates that the appeal process may be more difficult than ever.

According to a recent article from marketplace, the average wait time for an appeal hearing is 602 days, and the average payment is $1,171. The article also states that one million people are experiencing this massive delay, and one attorney says that he has even seen people pass away waiting for their hearing date. While the article speculates as to why this backlog is occurring, the point is simply that the appeal process can be difficult and time consuming for many of the disabled. While this is an unfortunate reality of the system, it is useful to understand the process.

When a person becomes injured or sick to the point of being unable to work, that person may want to file a claim with the Social Security Administration. Once the claim is filed, the administration will review the claim to determine whether the person meets the administration's definition of "disabled." If the administration feels that the individual is not disabled, they will deny the claim.

Once the claim has been denied, the claimant may file for a reconsideration within 60 days of receiving the denial. If that reconsideration is denied, then the claimant may file an appeal, where an administrative law judge will review the denial at a scheduled hearing. Unfortunately, this is where the process can be slow.

Fortunately, the appeal process is a legal process, so an individual may seek the assistance of an attorney to help navigate this process. During the hearing, the judge will review your medical history and other evidence to determine whether the administration was incorrect in denying the claim. At the hearing, the claimant may present arguments, and an experienced attorney can help guide the claimant to a successful outcome.

Source: Marketplace.org, "Wait times for Social Security benefit appeals leave people in limbo," Lizzie O'Leary, Peter Balonon-Rosen, and Sean McHenry, Oct. 20, 2017

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