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A Broken System:

I am one of the millions of Americans who receive disability benefits. It is a long process involving paperwork, phone calls, and appointments. The average wait period for an initial disability decision at the Social Security Administration reached an all-time high of more than six months, or 198 days, in August of this year. Nearly three times longer than it was a decade earlier.

In addition, many people are denied multiple times. Approximately 65% of all disability claims filed with the Social Security Administration are denied on the first application. Your request for disability benefits will continue to be denied by Social Security if you keep submitting new applications rather than filing an appeal.

According to AARP, the average disability applicant now waits more than two years for a final decision, while more than 10,000 individuals die each year without receiving an answer.

Contacting the Social Security Administration is also a challenge. AARP noted wait times of around 31 minutes in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Thursday, which were roughly ten times longer than in 2012.

I have been on hold for more than an hour with the Social Security Administration when I’ve called them. Typically, the conversation lasts less than ten minutes.

In early 2023, if inflation maintains its current pace, which rose to 8.6% in May, beneficiaries may see a COLA increase of 10.8%, according to a recent analysis by the independent Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. However, despite the increase, people will still be struggling to survive. I live off $871 a month. It is impossible to cover all of my expenses on less than $900 a month. I can’t afford luxuries such as trips to the movies, meals at restaurants, and cable TV. Holiday shopping is also a challenge. Last year, I spent over $500 on holiday gifts for my friends and family.

The disability benefits system in the United States needs to be reformed. Benefits need to be increased, and the application process needs to be streamlined. People’s lives depend on these benefits, and thousands die waiting for an answer.

Sources:

Heasley, Shaun. “Social Security, SSI Benefits Expected to Increase Significantly.” Disability Scoop, Disability Scoop, 28 June 2022, https://www.disabilityscoop.com/2022/06/28/social-security-ssi-benefits-expected-to-increase-significantly/29922/.

Konish, Lorie. “As Social Security Disability Application Wait Times Hit Record High, Experts Say It’s a Sign the Agency Needs More Funding.” CNBC, CNBC, 16 Sept. 2022, https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2022/09/16/long-social-security-service-waits-signal-need-for-more-funds.html.

Trudeau, Joyce. “Does Social Security Disability Deny Everyone the First Time They Apply?” Disability Secrets, Nolo, 21 Jan. 2022, https://www.disabilitysecrets.com/does-social-security-deny-you-the-first-time-you-apply-for-disability.html.

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Originally published as A Broken System: at Grace Dow Writes

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