It is a heartbreaking statistic: more than a million Americans are now on a waiting list to see whether they qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The average wait is now nearly two years, the Associated Press reports.
The more than a million people are waiting to have their appeals heard, which means they have already had an SSDI claim denied. For many, the decision by the Social Security Administration (SSA) is a life or death one: they will not be able to make it without SSDI benefits.
For that reason alone, many people will appeal a denied claim with the help of an attorney who knows and understands the administrative law process and paperwork involved.
The AP rightly notes that no one gets rich from the disability program: "the average benefit is $1,037 a month — too small to lift a family of two out of poverty."
For those whose claims are on hold for a year or more, the wait can prove to be too long. The news service cites one such case; a stone mason who worked until a series of heart attacks forced him to stop. He applied for SSDI in 2014 but his claim was denied. He appealed, but died last November following another heart attack. Ten months later, the SSA decided that he qualified for benefits.
The federal program is hiring 500 more administrative law judges and 600 new support staff to whittle the backlog down. Everyone hopes that these moves will finally enable Americans to get the critical benefits they deserve.