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Applying for Social Security Benefits? You May Have a Long Wait

Posted on Jan 23, 2013

The Social Security disability program is supposed to help those who become ill or injured and lose their ability to work. However, backlogs and long wait times mean that many people are unable to access these benefits when they need them most.

In Massachusetts, the average wait time for a decision on a Social Security disability application is one year (355.8 days as of June 2012). The long wait is due to a backlog of more than 12,000 claims that are waiting for a decision. Why the backlog?

A tough economy and a growing population of older workers mean that millions are applying for disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) just can't get through the claims fast enough. Each claim must be carefully checked to ensure that the applicant meets all SSA requirements before benefits can be approved.

Average wait times in New England (as of June 2012:

  • Maine: 371 days
  • New Hampshire: 317 days
  • Massachusetts: 356 days
  • Rhode Island: 374 days
  • Connecticut: 342 days

While the SSA has added staff and increased computer automation, these steps have not been sufficient to reduce the backlog.

Wait times may be even longer if you are denied and need to appeal. Hiring a Massachusetts disability benefits lawyer can help. Your lawyer will help you fill out the paperwork and quickly gather the documentation you need to prove your claim at the time of application and help prevent any unnecessary delays caused by incomplete applications. This can greatly speed up the processing of your claim.

Combat veterans and those with severe disabilities may qualify for expedited services. However, these applications must also be properly documented.

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John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law