Thousands of Americans Died While Waiting for a Social Security Disability Hearing

By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

Social Security programs provide much needed benefits to those in need across the U.S. Two programs run by the Social Security Administration (SSA) provide disability payments. The first program is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI provides financial assistance to adults who are unable to work due to a physical or mental disability. The other program is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Many people wait in anticipation for their Social Security disability claim to be processed. They are waiting on benefits that may prevent things like eviction, or the lights being shut off. Unfortunately, many are initially denied benefits and must wait for a disability hearing to appeal the denial. According to data gathered by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, over 100,000 people died over the past decade as they waited for an appeal to happen.

Thousands of Americans Died While Waiting for a Social Security Disability Hearing

The road to disability benefits can be a long one, for sure. Many people trying to access disability benefits do not quite know the level of bureaucracy they are about to get involved with, or the red tape they must get through to get the much-needed benefits. The U.S. may have just had a rude awakening to just how long it can take to navigate the Social Security disability office. A recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which is a nonpartisan federal agency, states that close to 110,000 people died waiting on an appeal after being initially died Social Security disability benefits between 2008 and 2019.

On top of this staggering statistic, the report also found that, between the years of 2014 and 2019, 50,000 people made bankruptcy filings as they were waiting for their disability cases to reach a resolution. As of 2015, the backlog of disability appeals skyrocketed to an average wait time of 839. That means, on average, people had to wait over two years for an appeal. As of 2019, the wait time has been reduced to an average of 506 days, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Many people rely on the appeals process to favorably resolve their claims. Those who have their claims initially denied by SSA have the right to appeal the decision and the majority of applicants are, in fact, rejected from receiving benefits at first. The SSA reports that, in some years, only a quarter of initial applications were approved.

While the outcome of an initial application may seem bleak, many have had more favorable results on appeal. In fact, the Government Accountability Offices found that 49% of people who filed an appeal between the years of 2008 and 2019 and had their cases concluded during this time period did end up being approved for receiving disability benefits. The fact that so many people rely on the appeals process in order to see their claim favorably resolved highlights the importance of the backlog continuing to be reduced. 

Disability Attorney

Social Security disability benefits are a vital resource to so many. The fact that it can take so long makes it even more important that you take action now to file for benefits. Disability Advocates Group can help you navigate the process so that you are able to more quickly submit your application and have everything ready should you need to appeal. Contact us today.

About the Author
Ms. Shvarts is the managing attorney for Disability Advocates Group. She opened Disability Advocates Group to assist individuals who became disabled and unable to work to obtain the benefits they need and deserve.  Ms. Shvarts and the rest of the team at Disability Advocates Group are dedicated to assisting individuals obtain Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.