Monday, March 4, 2013

Sequestration Will Increase Backlog of Social Security Disability Cases

The budget cuts --known as sequestration--  that took effect last Friday will probably increase the time that SSDI and SSI applicants will have to wait to have their cases decided.  These cuts will also affect the quality of the services provided to disability applicants at Social Security Field Offices and at the agency's toll free numbers. 
Fortunately, sequestration will not affect the monthly payments sent to those who are already receiving SSDI or SSI.  The amount of their benefits will remain the same and payments are expected to continue to be issued on a timely basis.
The negative impact of these cuts will be felt by those disabled individuals who still have their cases pending at the application stage or at the hearing level.  Over the past few years, the Social Security Adminstration has struggled with a backlog of applications for SSDI and SSI.  In the past, special funds had been identified to deal with this problem and important steps had been taken by the federal government to speed up the process.  Now, it is evident that the Agency will be forced to make one giant step backward.  A news report from "The Federal Times" predicts that the "Social Security Administration’s pending disability insurance claims backlog" could nearly double. 
Given this sad state of affairs, individuals considering filing for Social Security Disability Benefits should consult with a Social Security Disability Lawyer before applying for disability benefits.  In my experience, many claimants delay their claims when they file incomplete applications or when they fail to mention important issues during the early stages of the Social Security Disability process.  For this reason, in my office, we always like to help claimants with their intial application.  There is no additional cost for helping prepare the application documents.  In fact, we will not charge any legal fees unless we win.