Commissioner Feels Your Pain

Michael Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security:
I know from personal experience how difficult Social Security’s disability process can be. When my father was 52, he suffered a severe cerebral hemorrhage caused by a rare form of brain cancer. As I took care of the application for him, it opened my eyes to the complicated rules associated with our disability programs.

Each year, approximately 2.5 million people apply for Social Security disability benefits. On average, one-third of them are approved upon initial application, which takes an average of three months for a decision. But for those who are denied and appeal the decision to the hearing level, it can take a long time to receive a decision – much too long, in my opinion.

Right now, there are more than 750,000 cases waiting for a hearing and the average time to get a hearing decision is 499 days. Pending hearings have doubled since 2001. In addition, the number of applications for disability benefits has been extraordinarily high throughout the last seven years and we can expect it to be even higher in the coming years. See full story here:

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