Brian Clymer, Attorney at Law

Federal Hiring Freeze Likely To Worsen Social Security Disability Case Backlog

Soon after taking office, President Trump announced a federal hiring freeze. One likely impact of a hiring freeze will be even more delays in the hearing process for Social Security Disability applicants.

On average, it takes 18 to 20 months to get a hearing date when appealing an unfavorable determination for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Without more judges to hear appeals, wait times for hearings are bound to increase.

Social Security Disability Insurance Benefit ("SSDIB") is insurance we pay through payroll taxes. Applicants are folks who have worked and paid into the system. Disabled workers are no longer able to do their old work and any other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy.

SSDIB is a modest benefit - the average monthly benefit for a disabled worker in May 2016 was $1,166, which is $13,992 a year. For a disabled worker with a spouse and children under 16, the average benefit is just over $1,500 per month, or about $18,000 a year. 

Staffing levels were not increased to the amount the Obama administration requested. Moreover, the Social Security Administration announced last year plans to hire up to 350 Administrative Law Judges by the end of 2018 to ease the backlog, but a hiring freeze effectively puts those plans on hold.

What can you do? Contact your Congressional representative and tell them to adequately fund the Social Security Administration, in part so hearings can be held sooner. Not sure who is your U.S. Representative, find them here.  

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