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Social Security appeals backlog reaches record length

Some Californians suffer from disabling conditions that prevent them from working. These people are able to apply for benefits through the Social Security Administration. Unfortunately, the SSA denies a majority of the claims that it initially receives, forcing people to file appeals of their denials.

There is a huge backlog of cases that are waiting for their appeal hearings. These hearings are held before administrative law judges who determine whether or not to grant the appeals and award benefits to the claimants. The backlog is currently 600 days, meaning that some people may be forced to wait for their administrative hearings on their appeals for nearly two years.

Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Sherrod Brown have asked Sens. Roy Blunt and Patty Murray to give at least the $12.5 billion that Trump has requested for the SSA during the fiscal year 2018. An appropriations bill that was recently reported would reduce the SSA's budget by $460 million. The money is meant to reduce the backlog by allowing the SSA to hire more administrative law judges to hear the appeals. If the budget is reduced, the backlog is likely to increase even more.

SSD benefits can help people with disabilities to pay for their basic needs. One of the problems with the huge backlog of appeals is that some people may die while they are waiting for their cases to be heard. Disabled workers who are considering applying for benefits might want to consult with Social Security disability lawyers about the evidence and documents to submit with their claims. If they receive notices of denial, the attorneys might help them to file appeals. The lawyers may then work to gather as much additional evidence as possible to strengthen their clients' claims.

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