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Plenty of work to do to fix Social Security Disability backlog

The United States has a seemingly endless supply of problems, including issues related to the economy, terrorism, infrastructure, education and more. One of the headaches we face is "ensuring the financial stability and service levels of the entire Social Security system," states a recent editorial by political news publication The Hill.

Making the program stable and sustainable will require Congress to act to secure Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a critical component of society's safety net. Designed to help workers who become disabled by injury or illness, its growing backlog of cases can impose hardships on those it is intended to help, the publication states.

There are no easy fixes on the horizon, The Hill says. The Social Security Administration says that it is trying to reduce the backlog, but even that effort will take at least 5 years.

Right now, people making an initial SSDI claim must wait an average of 110 days to get an answer. For most, the answer will be that their claim has been denied. The first step of the appeals process is a request for reconsideration. This phase takes another 103 days.

The next phase involves a hearing with your Social Security appeals attorney before an administrative judge. This portion of the process takes an average of 583 days, The Hill says.

Throughout these steps in the process, the disabled worker is put in a terrible bind. The person cannot hold a job and cannot get needed SSDI benefits.

One of the primary reasons the backlog problem continues to ruin lives, The Hill states, is because the Social Security Administration lacks stable leadership and "a firm, steady strategic vision."

The editorial says the administration and Congress must install a qualified leader at the top of the SSA and then that person must lay out a plan that will reduce the backlog and get help to disabled workers in a more timely fashion.

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