In recent years, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has struggled to lower the average processing time for SSDI and SSI claims, but an increase in claims and other issues have made the goal difficult to accomplish. Although the average disability claim processing claim fell during the last fiscal year, many disabled Americans are waiting about a year for relief, while a significant number are waiting longer than that.
According to a new report by Allsup, a Social Security Disability Insurance provider, the average wait time for a disability claim in fiscal year 2012 was 353 days – just under twelve months. The average wait time for a disability claim in fiscal year 2011 was 360 days.
Many Americans with disabilities report that, injured, sick, and unable to work, they often struggle to support themselves and their families while waiting to hear back from the SSA with a decision regarding their claim. Some burn through emergency savings and retirement funds, while others must borrow or ask for help from friends and family.
The SSA has reported that it is working on several reforms that they hope will shorten the disability claims process in the near future. For example, they are investing in more examiner training and moving to an all-electronic system of claims processing. At the same time, they recently shortened public office hours so that claims processors can focus on their caseload.
However, despite the new changes, the number of disability claims being filed continues to increase. Experts believe that the increase is the result of an aging baby boomer population as well as a weak job market.