A shocking new report from the federal government’s non-partisan U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed that from 2008 to 2019, almost 110,000 people died while waiting for the government to make a final decision about their Social Security disability benefits. In addition, 48,000 applicants waiting on a final decision from the Social Security Administration (SSA) filed for bankruptcy.
At the Seelig Law Group, we have known for years that the delay in processing appeals hurts applicants because we see first-hand what happens to our New York City-based clients while they wait. To see hard data that confirms what we are seeing is happening nationwide is horrifying, especially considering the fact that the SSA itself admits that in some years only a quarter of initial applicants for benefits are approved.
Appeals Are Common
Although we like to work with applicants from the start of their disability benefits journey to the end, the Seelig Law team regularly assists New Yorkers who want to file an appeal after their initial application for Social Security disability benefits is denied.
Many denials happen because the initial paperwork submitted was not filled out properly. Other claims are denied because some of the information needed to support a successful claim is missing. Unfortunately, the SSA doesn’t care how sick an applicant is, or how a denial may impact his or her quality of life. If the applicant forgets to check a box, the doctor doesn’t supply the right medical paperwork to back up a claim, or one of a thousand other little things goes wrong, the SSA has no choice but to deny.
The only silver lining when it comes to appealing an initial denial is that the GAO report found 49% of people who filed appeals between 2008 to 2019, whose cases were concluded within that period, were ultimately successful in receiving disability benefits.
How Long Do Appeals Take?
The GAO report found that the typical appeal takes 506 days. However, this was pre-COVID. It is likely that we will see a crush of new applications, and an lengthening appeals process as the pandemic progresses and the economic fallout from it persists. It is therefore critical to work with an experienced attorney to get your initial application or appeal filed as soon as possible.
The best way to avoid a lengthy appeals process is to work with an experienced disability benefits attorney like those on the Seelig Law team. If you have yet to file an initial application, or are filing an appeal, we can help ensure that all your paperwork is in order, and you have fully answered all of the questions asked of you.
If you have questions about applying for Social Security disability benefits, or need to file an appeal after being denied benefits, the Seelig Law Group is here for you. Please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.