Social Security disability benefits are intended to help people who cannot work due to long-term or permanent injuries or other conditions to replace part of the income that they can no longer earn. But an unpleasant secret of the Social Security disability system is that although it sounds good in theory, actually getting to the point where the benefits become available can be a long, frustrating ordeal that can take months or even years to wade through.
According to information available from the Social Security Administration itself, a backlog of about a million caseloads nationwide have resulted in disability benefits being subject to delays of a year or more and in the worst cases almost two years. These delays can cause tremendous hardship for claimants who must somehow persevere through the problems that caused them to seek disability benefits in the first place – conditions like diabetes, heart problems, arthritis, bipolar disorder and many more – while they await a hearing, as well as months of additional waiting while they wait for a decision to be made.
In some cases, these delays can make the difference between disability benefits and survivor benefits when the claimant dies during the wait period.
Although the Social Security Administration claims that it is trying to shorten the wait period by adding more administrative judges and resorting to mechanisms like video hearings, these efforts at streamlining are estimated to reduce the average wait time to about nine months by the year 2020.
Some disability claimants have decided not to wait and suffer in silence, and have sued Social Security for its unreasonably long wait times. While if you are awaiting a Social Security hearing date for your West Virginia disability claim it may not be necessary to resort to litigation, having an attorney who is experienced with Social Security claims can be helpful in processing your claim as quickly as the overworked and overcrowded disability system will allow.
Source: US News & World Report, “Some struggle to live while waiting more than 2 years for Social Security disability hearings,” Kelli Kennedy, Nov. 28, 2015