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Why Is This Taking So Long?

Why is the Social Security Administration (SSA) taking so long to get Social Security Disability approved? The simple answer – I don’t know. But I do know that as of the February 2022 report from SSA’s State Agency Workload Data that the backlog in processing initial and reconsideration cases is over One Million Cases. The last time the workload was over One Million Cases was in November 2010. Then it was only above One Million from May – November.

When you apply for disability benefits with the SSA they turn your case over to a state agency to process through the initial and reconsideration levels. If you are not approved in either the initial or reconsideration level, your next option is to ask for a hearing with a SSA Administrative Law Judge. So is this a SSA problem or a state problem? The evidence points to a state problem as the five biggest Disability Determination Services (DDS) states by volume are Texas (101,841), Florida (95,168), California (66,331), New York (44,051) and Georgia (42,047). The five biggest DDS states by percentage are Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, Arkansas, and West Virginia with greater than five cases per thousand residents.

Now for the good news! Since SSA started keeping these statistics in October 2000. In 257 months, there has only been a backlog of over One Million Cases in 8 of those months. But then the number of applications for disability benefits has been declining each year since the last high in 2010. My best guess is that there has been a slowdown across the board in the processing of claims by DDS, return of medical records by medical providers, and the ability to schedule consultative exams with doctor’s offices, due to the limited ability to go to a workplace by the employees and schedule office visits by the doctors. With the reduction in COVID-19 restrictions, one would expect that this backlog will start to drop and we will see a backlog of fewer than One Million Cases in the next few months.

Please check back with us for further updates and to keep you connected with the news you need to know about Social Security Disability benefits.

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