Thanks to nearly two decades of rising claims for Social Security disability insurance in California and across the United States, claimants have been experiencing incredible wait times for benefits decisions and hearings - some have waited for as long as two years to see a hearing officer. Burgeoning claims, budgetary woes and understaffing have all contributed to the Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI program's struggle in delivering service and benefits to applicants and recipients.
Compounding matters, increased SSDI rolls have rapidly depleted the trust funds - funded by tax withholdings from U.S. workers - from which benefits are paid. However, the New York Times reports that there may be some good news on the horizon for SSDI claimants and beneficiaries. Over the last two years, according to the Social Security Administration's or SSA annual reports, applications for SSD benefits have dropped off considerably.
This decline in claims is already having a positive effect on the SSDI trust fund. In 2016, SSA predicted that the SSDI trust fund would go broke by 2023. Last year, the agency revised its estimates to an insolvency date of 2028. This year's report, however, predicts that the fund will remain solvent until 2032. So, in just two years, the drop in claims has added at least nine years to the life of the SSD fund.
At the same time, assuming SSA staffing and budget remain largely stable, claimants should begin to see improvements in waiting times for claim processing and appeals hearings. Although benefits decision timing may improve, a faster turn-around does not mean improved odds of a successful claim. An experienced attorney can help to ensure that claims are properly documented and, in the event of an appeal, help to provide seasoned representation at the hearing.