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New York Times Reports on Social Security Disability Claim Crisis

Yesterday’s front cover of the NY Times had an article detailing the long delays in the Social Security Disability claim process.  Much of the backlog is the result of Congress failing to adequately fund a Social Security disability claim system which is now facing more claims due to the aging of the “baby boomer” generation.  Today, a rash of editorials skewering both President Bush and Congress for this preventable crisis hit the streets and the far reaches of the Internet.  Something must be done – now! 

Last week, I traveled to New Haven, Connecticut to handle a Social Security disability hearing for an emergency room physician stricken with chronic Lyme disease.  The hearing before an Administrative Law Judge went well and we will win the case.  However, the client had to wait over 18 months for her hearing before the judge.  In this particular case, the wait did not have a dramatic financial impact on the doctor since she was already collecting benefits from her own private long term disability insurance policy through Northwestern Mutual Life

But this is the exception, not the norm.  Less than 20% of my clients have either employer sponsored group ERISA long-term disability plans or private individual disability income protection.  Most of my clients, when faced with the long delays at Social Security disability, are facing either bankruptcy or foreclosure.  As stated in the article, some die before their case is heard.  I have one such client in the hospital now with stage 4 terminal cancer.  In most cases, “justice delayed is justice denied”.  A judge has not even been assigned to the case yet.  Thankfully, I was able to call in a few favors and have Social Security place this case on an expedited review.

The Social Security Administration recently proposed new rules to streamline the disability appeals process.  Click here to see the new rules and submit your comments.  Some of their ideas are good, others would harm disabled claimants even further.  As a member of the NOSSCR Board of Directors, I can assure you we will be submitting detailed comments to both expedite claims while protecting fundamental fairness to disabled claimants.



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