If you have appealed a decision on your case for Social Security Disability Insurance within the last year, there’s a good chance you’re still waiting to hear whether or not it was successful. And you are certainly not alone. There are over one million people stuck on this SSDI waiting list, their appeals still filed away and awaiting examination by a federal judge. This logjam in the system is one of the Social Security Administration’s biggest problems—and not coincidentally, it is directly addressed by the changes in the SSDI program made possible by the recent federal budget deal.
This overhaul of the appeals process is long overdue. But how much sooner can you now expect to hear a decision on your case? The good news is that the answer is something along these lines: probably sooner than you would have if these changes hadn’t happened. But since policy changes at the federal level usually take a while to really make an impact, it’s hard to say just how much sooner.
I’m Waiting to Have My Appeal Decided. What Should I Do?
The best answer is: keep being patient. The change that most directly affects the appeals waiting period is a significant increase in the number of judges responsible for deciding the cases. The goal set by the SSA is to have at least 1,800 judges working these cases by 2018, compared to the current number of 1,450. While this increase will take place, and the rate of hearings will increase alongside it, the bulk of disability appeals currently on file will be decided within this period anyways. That being said, if yours is one of these cases, you can reasonably expect some kind of cut to your waiting time.
I Was Rejected and Am Planning to Appeal. How Does This Affect Me?
Well, the first thing you should do is get the appeal process going. The sooner you take action, the sooner you will get the help you need. The good news for you is that, along with the increase in judges handling appeals, the SSA is taking steps such as the following to streamline its administrative process:
- Greater effort is being given to avoid needing a judge and a court hearing altogether. Attorneys and claims examiners are being hired who can make decisions on cases before a hearing is necessary.
- The SSA is making their system of filing and sorting appeals and other documents more efficient. This means that you can expect less of a headache when putting together your case.
- General communication between you and the people handling your appeal is being improved, keeping you more fully in the loop on what is happening with your case.
But even with these improvements, the SSDI appeals process remains complex and can be very stressful for those awaiting a decision. Hiring an attorney to handle the dirty work is one of the best ways to help yourself. At Summit Disability Group, we pride ourselves on providing the best possible service to our clients. Contact us today and fill out a free consultation form. We will do all we can to make the system work for you.