For many, that's not an indication of how greatly they need their Social Security Disability (SSD), but a factual statement of what happens during their application process. There are those who have applied for SSD, and because of problems with their application, may be denied. They then request a hearing and have to wait again.
During that wait time, some will die. Residents of the St. Louis area may be frustrated, but they should be relieved to know they do not have to endure the worst wait times in the SSD system, which is currently the 22-month wait for those in Miami. Some areas have 19 to 20-month waits and the average is 16-months. Our local hearing offices in downtown St. Louis and Creve Coeur have had severe delays in scheduling hearings. However, both offices got additional judges in recent months. We hope the backlog will start to drop.
There is great pressure on the administrative law judges to speed up the process, but there is no easy fix. If they approve more cases, they can be attacked as "rubberstamping" benefits' approvals. Because denials require an exhaustive examination of the sometimes-voluminous documentation that accompanies a case file, it can slow down their production and leave them open to criticism of contributing to the backlog.
For disabled workers, the delay can cause severe problems as they struggle to cover their expenses and keep from becoming homeless. Because of the delay in Miami, one group has filed a federal lawsuit.
Many applicants work with an attorney for assistance with this complex task. There are no guarantees in the SSD system. However, the more complete your application, with supporting medical documentation that adequately demonstrates your disability, the greater the likelihood that you will receive an approval with your application for SSD benefits.
Source: usnews.com, "Some struggle to live while waiting more than 2 years for Social Security disability hearings," KELLI KENNEDY, Associated Press, November 28, 2015