Disability Hearings Face Long Wait Times

Posted on Dec 04, 2015

disability delaysSocial Security Disability applications face significant wait times. Administrative issues, the sheer volume of applicants, and the current system contribute to long wait times. Many applicants wait two or more years. As of this writing, wait times in Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina are 18 months on average, and Greensboro is 20 months.

Debt Waiting for Disability Benefits

Disabled individuals who wait to have their condition recognized for federal benefits might face serious financial and health stress. For one, they may be unable to work. The lost income could eventually cost an individual to lose their home, fall into debt or consider filing for bankruptcy. If an individual is unable to work while they wait for a response on their disability application, they wouldn't be eligible for health insurance through an employer and likely cannot afford a policy independently. Without health insurance and without an income, many are unable to afford the medications and healthcare that their condition requires. As more time passes, their health could decline rapidly. Other conditions could manifest and become fatal. The Associated Press recently reported about a man who was approved for disability benefits a few months after his death, benefits that his surviving spouse ultimately received.

Denied Disability

According to the Social Security Disability Resource Center, less than a 1/3 of disability claims in North Carolina are approved. On a national level, Social Security Disability approval rates have declined. Four years ago, just more than half of SSD applicants were approved. Now just less than half (44%) get approved. Receiving a denial does not mean the applicant is not eligible for benefits--the applicant has the right to have their claim reconsidered. This of course involves a wait time. Learn more about the appeals process.

Calculating Benefits While Waiting

Once an individual is approved for disability, their benefits will be applied retroactively. However, usually there is an additional 5-6 month waiting period after approval before the approved claimant receives benefits. This extra time allows for valuating the retroactive benefits. Usually Social Security benefits increase incrementally with cost of living adjustments. Unfortunately, no adjustment was made for 2016 benefits and they will remain the same. Eligible conditions must prevent the individual from working for one year or more. This does not mean the individual must wait an entire year before applying for disability. To be eligible, the individual must prove the condition will prevent them from working for one year or more. 

Volume of Disability Cases Pending in North Carolina

The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review in Raleigh posted figures at the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2015. At that time, Raleigh had:

7,010 New Cases

10,967 Cases Pending

5,456 Dispositions

Start the Clock

The longer an individual waits to begin the SSD application process, the longer it will take to receive and respond to an eligibility response, which also delays receipt of benefits for those who eventually receive an approval. Contact our firm to reserve a spot on our calendar with a Social Security Disability attorney. Our firm represents individuals in all jurisdictions in North Carolina. We have five locations in the greater Raleigh and Fayetteville area, but we can also meet you in your home or while you recover in a hospital if that is more convenient.