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Federal budget decisions are threatening access to disabiltiy benefits.

Government agencies don't exactly have a reputation for being the speediest administrators around. A recent article explains the reason that the Social Security Administration lacks the resources to meet current demands.

Since 2010, the SSA's operating budget has decreased 10 percent, factoring in inflation. Those decreases have forced the SSA to close over 60 field offices and 500 mobile offices. Yet the number of individuals receiving various benefits from the SSA has grown by about 12 percent. Notably, that demand also comes from children, who may qualify for need-based benefits such as Supplemental Security Income.

What those statistics mean is that workers seeking Social Security disability insurance benefits will have a very long wait. For those requiring an administrative hearing, that wait will be even longer. By a recent count, over 1.1 million Americans are waiting for a disability hearing, which is one of the steps in that administrative process. That translates into an average wait of over 500 days for a decision on a pending appeal.

Are federal lawmakers taking action? To the contrary, a proposed appropriations bill from the U.S. House of Representatives may require the SSA to take even more drastic cost-saving measures, such as a furlough of all agency employees for up to two weeks. The SSA's offices would be closed throughout that furlough. In addition, SSA will have to continue the current hiring freeze.

As a law firm that focuses on disability benefits, we know that economic pressures negatively impact the SSDI applications process. Disability examiners may have a financial incentive to be conservative in their approvals, and individuals who are no longer able to work because of a disability might be forced into poverty by the extra long wait and processing delays. That means there is even more reason to submit the best possible SSDI application on the first attempt.

The attorneys at the Disability Benefits Law Center, P.C., offer a free initial consultation and, at no charge, will help you draft your application if you are at that stage in the process. Call our toll free number at 1-866-886-0660 for help with your disability benefits case.

Source: Washington Post, "Closed Social Security offices, furloughed staff under GOP cuts, agency warns," Joe Davidson, Aug. 9, 2016

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