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Social Security Disability lines stretch in front of claimants

Tumors and cysts blinded her in her left eye and found their way to her brain as well, disrupting her memory. A series of seizures resulted in the loss of the 53-year-old's job.

She worked full-time for 25 years, raising a daughter as a single mom. Today she wonders why the days, months and years are marching by as she waits to hear from the government about her Social Security Disability claim. “This is not right,” she said through tears. "This is not what we pay into Social Security for."

Like many other SSDI claimants, she is up against a very difficult reality. The Social Security Administration is "understaffed and overwhelmed," the Associated Press reports and it cannot process in a timely manner the applications for benefits it receives.

A spokesperson for an organization of attorneys that represent Social Security claimants said that last year alone, 8,000 people died while waiting for a hearing to determine their eligibility for benefits.

"That’s 23 people a day, almost one an hour to get a hearing," the spokesperson said. People who are waiting for an SSDI are far too often hitting financial walls and losing their homes and being unable to pay for medications while the clock ticks.

The AP reports that SSDI beneficiaries are those who workers who were substantially employed and who paid into the disability insurance fund -- "and who meet a strict standard of disability."

For most people who apply for benefits, the stakes are very high. They want to do all they can to improve their chances of approval, so they rely on attorneys who understand the process, the paperwork and the people who make the decisions on disability payments.

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