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Enrollment for SSDI down but number of pending cases up

In California, 4.4 percent of the population between the ages of 18 and 64 receive payments from Social Security Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income or both programs. According to the Social Security Administration, enrollment numbers appear to have peaked and started to decline, but the amount of pending cases has reached an all-time high of 1.14 million. In 2010, pending cases only totaled about 300,000.

The departure of increasing numbers of baby boomers from the workforce accounts for the decline in enrollment. Over the past two years, SSDI claims have decreased by 150,000. People with pending cases, however, face increasingly long wait times. In 2017, the average wait for a disability hearing reached 633 days. The prior year, the wait time was 543 days.

The need for an appeal hearing imposes an even longer wait time on people. Californians who want to challenge a denial of disability benefits will wait for an average of 18 to 21 months.

The age of applicants has gone up since 2000, when the average age was 48.9. By 2016, the average age had risen to 51.5. Individuals who are 55 to 59 years old represent the greatest proportion of those receiving benefits.

A worker that wants to apply for social security disability could speak with an attorney before beginning the process. A legal review could inform the person about eligibility requirements. A lawyer could manage the application and strive to ensure that the forms have been filled out according to government guidelines. With legal support, a person could gain help with scheduling the medical evaluation and organizing medical records. The efforts of an attorney might allow someone to achieve approval for benefits.

Source: The Orange County Register, "How services and funding for Social Security Disability Insurance are changing", Kurt Snibbe, Nov. 27, 2017

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