One million is a big number. Despite the astronomical figures in the federal debt, baseball player salaries and the number of results you get a typical Google search, a million is still a lot. And when more than a million Americans are on a Social Security Disability waiting list, the number becomes heartbreaking.
The Associated Press reports that more than a million people are today waiting to have their SSDI appeals heard. For many, a positive outcome means they can keep a roof over their heads and pay their bills and see doctors for treatments for the conditions that prevent them from working.
The AP reports that there are currently 10.5 million people getting disability assistance from Social Security and another 8 million who receive disability benefits from Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The news service points out that SSDI recipients aren’t getting rich: “the average benefit is $1,037 a month — too small to lift a family of two out of poverty.”
Regardless, the benefits save countless lives. However, the wait to find out whether an appeal is accepted or denied can prove to be too much for some.
AP points to the case of a stone mason whose career was cut short in his late 50s by a series of heart attacks. He applied for SSDI in 2014, but was turned down. He appealed the decision, but died in November of last year from yet another heart attack.
Ten months later, the Social Security Administration sent him a notice: he had won the appeal and could now receive benefits.
Perhaps similar tragedies will be averted by SSA’s decision to hire 500 new administrative law judges and 600 additional support staff. Let’s hope they can at least start the process of significantly reducing the backlog.