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Delays in Social Security Cases Grow
Have your social security disability benefits been denied? If so, the process of fighting for your benefits can take a very long time. The disability lawyers at Jenkins, Block & Associates, P.C., discuss this issue with our clients during the early phase of our representation. Our lawyers believe that educating our clients regarding the timing and stages in a social security disability claim is important. It is not uncommon for a social security claimant to have to wait for more than a year to receive a favorable decision in his or her case. Being without earned income for such a long period of time often leads to severe financial and emotional stress. Preparing oneself and one’s family for the fight for benefits requires planning for the difficult financial struggles that will likely occur as the claim proceeds through the social security system.
Individuals who have filed for disability (DIB) benefits, and/or supplemental security income (SSI) often come to the disability lawyers at Jenkins, Block & Associates and discuss their frustration with how long it takes to get their benefits. The cause for the delay is reflected in the procedure that the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses to process claims. After a claimant files his or her initial application for benefits, a response is usually given within a couple of months. If the claimant is denied, he or she can appeal the denial by filing a request for reconsideration. As with the initial application, the government (SSA) usually makes a reconsideration determination within a couple of months. If the reconsideration decision is unfavorable, the claimant can then request a hearing. It is at the hearing level where the main delay occurs.
When a claimant requests a hearing, his or her claim for DIB/SSI is transferred to one of SSA’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). Over the past several years the average processing time for most ODARs throughout the country has increased dramatically. This is a fact that is not hidden by SSA. The government recognizes the problem, but to date has not yet been able to implement changes to reverse this discouraging trend.
Processing time is the time it takes for a decision to be made after a request for hearing has been filed. In other words, processing time can be thought of as how long a case is pending at an ODAR before a decision is rendered. National ODAR processing time statistics are available online via SSA’s website . As of February 27, 2015, the average processing time for the Baltimore ODAR was 545 days. This processing time ranks Baltimore near the bottom of all ODARs in the U.S. At the time there were approximately 11,118 cases pending disposition in the Baltimore ODAR. The number of requests for hearing was considerably greater than the number of dispositions being made, meaning the number of pending cases was growing. Such statistics suggest that the fight for benefits will continue to be a long struggle as the backlog at ODAR continues.
During what is often a multiyear fight, the disability lawyers at Jenkins, Block and Associates work to maintain regular contact with our clients. We actively follow our clients’ medical treatment. Our lawyers also regularly contact SSA and ODAR to make sure our clients’ cases are being properly worked through the SSA appeals system.
If you have questions regarding your DIB and/or SSI claim, contact the attorneys at Jenkins, Block and Associates at 1-800-243-2439.