Social Security Disability Backlog Still High At Fiscal Year-end, Reports Allsup

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SSA wraps up fiscal year with an average hearing-level wait time of 353 days; Allsup outlines common mistakes to avoid after Social Security disability benefits are denied.

With the reduced or nonexistent income that comes with a disability, those applying for Social Security Disability Insurance can face extreme financial hardships throughout the process. It’s important to get started as soon as possible.

Despite a reduction in average hearing processing times, the Social Security Administration (SSA) recently reported there were still more than 800,000 Social Security disability claims pending at the end of the fiscal year, according to Allsup, a nationwide provider of Social Security Disability Insurance(SSDI) representation and Medicare plan selection services.

The federal agency ended the year with 816,575 claims pending at the hearing level. The SSA also reported an average hearing processing time of 353 days in FY12, which is down from 360 days in FY11. However, with average wait times for a decision on Social Security disability benefits still approaching one year, Allsup recommends filing for benefits immediately.

“A lengthy wait time for a decision is just one reality facing someone who has become disabled and can no longer work—there’s no time to lose,” said David Bueltemann, manager of senior claimant representatives at Allsup. “With the reduced or nonexistent income that comes with a disability, those applying for Social Security Disability Insurance can face extreme financial hardships throughout the process. It’s important to get started as soon as possible.”

More than two-thirds of initial applications will be denied, Bueltemann added. “Applying for Social Security disability benefits is complex because of the many steps and requirements involved,” he said. “It can be disheartening. But it’s important not to give up—approximately two-thirds of all individuals who appeal to the hearing level eventually are awarded the benefits they earned when they were working.”

Social Security Disability Insurance is a federally mandated insurance program that taxpayers and their employers fund through payroll taxes. SSA oversees the program, which has stringent requirements in order to be determined disabled. It is designed to provide monthly benefits to those who have experienced a severe disability and cannot work for 12 months or longer, or who have a terminal condition.

Mistakes To Avoid With Social Security Disability
Below, Allsup outlines common mistakes to avoid if Social Security disability is denied. With hundreds of thousands of people pursuing SSDI claims, some people:

  • Miss the appeal deadline. The appeals process, though lengthy, gives more opportunity to provide additional information with a claim for Social Security disability benefits. Those who miss the deadline then have to re-apply, which sets them back at the beginning of the process.
  • Provide incomplete information. For example, claimants may not provide information about all of their doctors or not include enough details about the effects of their condition on work performance. It is time-consuming to provide this information. This is where a third-party representative such as Allsup can help by knowing which information is important and advocating for the person’s claim.
  • Waste time trying to correct a mistake. All information provided in the initial application will remain a part of the record, including the denial decision. Filing an appeal provides the opportunity to add more detail and expand on the claim for disability benefits.
  • Fail to provide updates to the state Disability Determination Services (DDS). State examiners at these offices review the application and determine whether Social Security disability benefits will be approved. It’s important to provide ongoing information about doctors’ and hospital visits, as well as any medical tests, such as MRIs or CT scans.
  • Throw out application copies, completed forms and records. If Social Security disability examiners request these records, keeping them on file helps avoid extra costs or time down the road.
  • Understate or exaggerate the extent of their disability. Claimants may overlook modifications they’ve made to their lives to cope with a disability, and as a result, may say their condition hasn’t changed since the denial, when in reality it has worsened. Some people also exaggerate the impact of their condition, which can raise more questions and can hurt their claim. A representative can help claimants clarify changes they’ve experienced, such as additional hospital visits or tests, as well as document the impact of the impairments on the person’s life.
  • Don’t ask for help. Only about one in 10 people has an SSDI representative with their application. By the time they get to a hearing, the SSA reports, more than three out of four disability claimants have a representative. A disability expert can help develop and present the person’s claim for Social Security disability benefits. Allsup provides representation services from the initial application through appeals.
  • Give up. Many people do not appeal the Social Security’s decision on their initial claim. It’s important to realize that the federal agency denies most applications, so the appeal may be necessary in order to receive benefits. Using a representative does carry a fee, but it is contingent—meaning there is no fee if the person doesn’t receive Social Security benefits. Having a disability advocate such as Allsup improves chances of receiving benefits earlier, which could mean a much smaller fee than if someone waits to get help.

For more information about how Allsup can help you through the Social Security disability backlog, visit For a free evaluation or more information about eligibility for Social Security disability benefits, contact Allsup’s Disability Evaluation Center at (800) 678-3276.

Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability, veterans disability appeal, Medicare and Medicare Secondary Payer compliance services for individuals, employers and insurance carriers. Founded in 1984, Allsup employs more than 800 professionals who deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. The company is based in Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis. For more information, go to or visit Allsup on Facebook at

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