Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) January 11, 2016 – The Social Security Administration (SSA) is struggling with long wait times for disability benefits hearings.
Administrative judges are facing heavy caseloads of pending appeals with a national average wait time of around 16 months. Two Florida cities have the country’s longest delays. It takes 22 months to get a hearing in Miami, while Fort Myers has a 20-month wait time. The SSA announced plans for two new judgeships in Miami to ease the burden of pending cases.
“A lot can happen during such lengthy wait periods,” said David W. Magann, a prominent attorney in Tampa, Florida, whose firm specializes in Social Security disability law. “As a result of not being able to work, disabled people may be unable to afford medication or might even become homeless while waiting for their disability benefits. Such long delays are simply unacceptable.”
The SSA’s disability program is a lifeline for millions of disabled Americans who are unable to work. The program sends monthly checks of around $1,165 to nearly nine million permanently unemployed people and $540 to over eight million other low-income individuals. Both groups must submit medical proof to show they are unable to work.
In 2014 the House Oversight and Government Reform committee accused hundreds of judges of rubber-stamping cases as approvals require less time and paperwork than denials. This caused the program’s overall costs to soar into the billions. On the other hand, judges who spent time evaluating medical documents in detail to make a decision were reprimanded for being too slow in approving cases.
According to the SSA, approval rates have declined from 56 percent in 2011 to 44 percent in 2015. The agency is aiming to reduce wait times to 270 days or under by 2020. The program has planned to hire 400 additional judges by 2018. Video hearings by judges in other states with fewer pending cases may also help decrease backlogs.
“No one should have to wait two years for a hearing. However, it will take some time to see what difference the SSA disability program’s additional funding and new policies make to the long wait times and claims backlog,” said Magann.
Learn more at http://www.floridasocialsecurity.com/
David W. Magann, P.A.
156 W. Robertson St.
Brandon, FL 33511
Call: (813) 657-9175
4012 Gunn Highway #165
Tampa, Florida 33618
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