According to a recent article from WIVB4 News, one woman’s three-year wait for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits is finally over. Due to severe injuries to her neck and back, claimant has been unable to work since late 2010.
Claimant filed a claim after becoming disabled and, after several initial denials, was afforded the opportunity to have her case heard before an administrative law judge (ALJ) at the Social Security Administration (SSA) Office of Disability Adjudication and Review.
After a hearing before the ALJ, claimant waited well over a year, and a decision was still not released. During this time, claimant feared that she would lose everything. She had worked her entire adult life up until becoming disabled and had purchased her house. She had always made her mortgage payments on time but was now facing foreclosure. While she said the bank had been patient with her, there was not much they would be willing do, given that she was without any income for years.
In a last ditch effort, claimant contacted her Congress member, who launched an investigation into the SSA appeals review process at the local SSA office to which her case was assigned. After being contacted by investigators, the ALJ assigned to claimant’s appeal resigned, and her case was transferred to another ALJ who promptly approved her claim and retroactively approved her award of SSDI benefits. Even after being approved for benefits, it still took a considerable amount of time for the SSA to issue her payment.
As our Boston disability lawyers can explain, when a claimant is ultimately awarded benefits, those benefits can be paid retroactively to the time claimant first filed an application for SSDI benefits. How this payment of retroactive benefits is paid, and if this option is available, will be dependent upon the facts of an individual claimant’s situation, as no two cases are the same.
While there was nothing mentioned about the circumstances surrounding the resignation of the ALJ assigned to her case, the article noted that the SSA office hired two new ALJs, and the average wait time for a direction has gone from 18 months to 14 months at that particular office. An SSDI benefits lawyer who represents claimants in that area said that, while 14 months is still clearly too long to wait for disabled workers in need of benefits, it is certainly a step in the right direction.
It is hard to say whether the long delays and problems are due to SSA policies, a lack of funding, or a combination, but the effect on claimants is often the same. People with real disabilities in desperate need of benefits are having their claims denied on an all too frequent basis.
One of the most important things a disabled individual can do to navigate this complex process and avoid the potential pitfalls put in place by the SSA is to have an attorney who is to consult an experienced SSDI attorney.
If you are seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
Three-year wait for Social Security Disability finally over, September 3, 2014, WIVB4 News
More Blog Entries:
Millions of Americans Eligible for Social Security Disability, Aug. 30, 2014, Boston Social Security Disability Lawyer Blog