Over one million people who are unable to work due to an injury, illness, or other disability are waiting to see if they qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits — benefits for which they have been paying over their entire working careers. If a claimant ends up needing a hearing, they wait an average of 20 months before making their appearance before and administrative law judge, or ALJ.
In Michigan the wait times at the Mt. Pleasant and Grand Rapids Social Security Administration (SSA) offices are also 20 months. The Detroit SSA office has the state’s shortest wait time: a year and three months, on average, before one will get a hearing.
Such long wait times have proven deadly for many applicants. In 2016 and 2017, combined, more than 18,000 people died before receiving a final determination of SSD benefits eligibility. One reason this is so tragic is that, like Social Security retirement benefits, SSDI is paid from a fund that all United States workers pay into over the course of their careers.
Anyone with a qualifying injury, illness or impairment that prevents them from working is entitled to the benefits. Benefits from SSDI help claimants make ends meet when they’ve lost wages from an inability to work. It can take several months for an initial benefits determination to be made, and if an appeal is necessary, the process from application to determination can easily last more than two years.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office commissioned a study and in January 2018 issued some strong recommendations to SSA about streamlining the SSD benefits process. One finding that GAO made is that claimants with a representative, such as an attorney, were successful three times more often than applicants who proceeded on their own. An experienced SSDI attorney can help one through the entire process, from ensuring that the initial application is submitted correctly to a hearing. When it comes to SSD claims, time is too crucial to waste. Visit our firm’s dedicated Social Security Disability page to see how we can help.