It can be extremely frustrating to wait for the approval of disability benefits that you desperately need. Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) estimates that there are over a million people in the U.S. currently doing just that—and claimants in the state of Florida may be waiting between one-to-two years for a disability hearing date.
Why Does It Take So Long to Get a Disability Hearing?
Not only does it take many months to get a hearing, it may also take even longer to get a decision on a benefits case. Over half of all applications received by the SSA are initially denied, making the wait times even longer as applicants appeal the decision.
Some of the reasons claimants wait years for benefits include:
- Backlogs. The number of claims waiting for hearings varies from city to city, and may be higher in more densely-populated areas. For example, the average processing time in the Orlando office—which takes applications from field offices in Kissimmee, Lake Mary, Leesburg, and Ocala—is 16 months, compared to an average of 11 months in the Fort Myers office.
- Administration cutbacks. The SSA’s operating budget has decreased 10 percent since 2010, causing staffing problems that have added an average of 20 days of wait time per claim.
- Economic congestion. More people apply for disability in times of economic hardship. The SSA must determine which benefits applicants are not only disabled, but also are completely unable to work.
- Changes in the process. In 2017, SSA implemented new rules intended to streamline the claims process, including removing the special consideration given to a claimant’s treating physician. Relying solely on the opinion of a medical consultant who may only have reviewed a patient’s file can lead to more denials, which increases the backlog if the denials are appealed.
There are many things you can do while waiting for your court date, including preparing for your disability hearing for the best chance of success.
If you are having trouble getting your rightful Social Security benefits, our attorneys can intervene and take over the fight on your behalf. Call us today or fill out the form on this page to set up your consultation with a Social Security attorney.