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Long waits in Social Security disability cases

Most Social Security disability applicants in Missouri will face a long wait before they begin receiving payments. Nationwide, the average wait time for a hearing is over 600 days. About 45 percent of applicants are approved for Social Security benefits eventually.

The Social Security Administration has introduced new measures intended to prevent fraud, including reducing the weight placed on the opinion of an applicant’s primary care physician. Medical records from an applicant’s primary physician are now considered no different than records from one-time medical examiners. Some people feel that this is a mistake since one-time examiners are not able to observe patients over a long period of time.

There has been a backlog of disability applications for approximately the past decade. When the recession of 2008 led to massive job loss, many people applied for Social Security benefits who were disabled but not necessarily unable to work.

The Social Security Administration can still prioritize cases when there is a good reason based on the applicant’s medical condition. Trying to weed out fraud is just one way that the Administration is trying to deal with the backlog of disability cases.

An attorney might be able to help an applicant who has been denied Social Security benefits. Many applications are denied at the initial application stage as well as after a reconsideration of the application. The next step is to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). An attorney could help the applicant prepare for a disability hearing by ensuring that the ALJ has all the necessary medical records and work history information.