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Social Security backlog leaves many in North Carolina waiting

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Given the shortfall in workers the Social Security Administration has dealing with claims, there is a backlog of more than one million people who are waiting for an adjudication. Those who have already applied or are planning to apply for SSD benefits should be aware of this as they move forward with the process.

The average wait time for people seeking SSD benefits has reached two years. The problem for many applicants is that they will not live long enough to have a hearing on their claim. Another issue is that rejections are common when people first apply, making it necessary to appeal, which takes more time. In North Carolina, there are numerous people who are currently facing this situation. The adjudication process is not clear cut, so there can be a difference from one SSA worker to the next as to whether an application for benefits will be approved. This, too, is a problem. Statistically, the majority of individuals who file an appeal after having their claim rejected will have that decision reversed, resulting in the recovery of benefits.

One woman said that she had been on the waiting list for three years. A Navy veteran who qualifies for benefits referenced a friend who waited for seven years and died before getting SSD benefits. More than 10 million people in the U.S. receive Social Security disability, and another 8 million get Supplemental Security Income. However, those whose condition is such that they cannot work are being forced to wait. The typical wait time for a reconsideration hearing in North Carolina is 675 days. To have an Administrative Law Judge hear the case takes slightly more than 600 days with Charlotte having the worst overall backlog in the nation.

People who are considering applying for SSD benefits might be intimidated by these wait times, but that does not mean they should not apply. People who have already applied and are going through the appeals process might feel a similar amount of frustration and fear, but they, too, should continue to fight for the compensation they need and deserve. Often, claims are rejected due to mistakes made during the application. In other cases, there is a failure to provide all the necessary medical evidence or personal information. Having legal assistance that is experienced in the entire Social Security disability process can be useful from beginning to end, and may result in a disabled individual recovering benefits faster than he or she would otherwise.

Source:, “Disability backlog tops 1 million; thousands die on waitlist,” Mark Barber, Sept. 18, 2017

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