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Washington Post spotlights huge SSA disability backlog

At our offices, we see those terribly affected by disability on a daily basis. Many will end up waiting months, if not years, to be helped by Social Security Administration disability benefits. In Cook County alone, there are 158,840 people who receive disability benefits, unable to work in due to mental illness or physical disability.

However, the general public may not know just how backed up the SSA is and how many people are desperately in need of help. Reporters at The Washington Post wrote a long feature this month showcasing the problems of the SSA disability system, starting by highlighting the fact that there are nearly one million cases in backlog.

“I had two claimants on my docket this past month. . . . They died. They died. Waiting for a hearing,” said Carol Pennock, a Social Security judge told the Washington Post on just how serious the backlog can be.

Currently, there are 1,445 SSA administrative judges. That means that for each judge, there is nearly 700 backlogged cases waiting for their approval or denial by the SSA. This does not take into account new applicants for SSA disability benefits or the fact that some areas, such as Chicago, are more populated and will likely be much deeper into the backlog.

There is nothing new about the the SSA claim backlog, as it has existed for many years. The numbers have varied over the years, but the effect is the same: justice delayed is justice denied.

Although judges have numerous cases to decide, there is also the problem of the size of the SSA staff available to assist in the hearing process. Bench decisions and attorney adviser decisions were helpful in pushing out favorable results for clients, both of which were helped by SSA staff, but those methods of rendering decisions are no longer common. Why? Only SSA executives in charge truly know.

A claimant seeking expeditious justice only have their attorneys and local congressmen to help them. We at The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates strives to do everything in our power to push our clients’ cases to favorable decisions.