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Frustration mounts over Social Security Disability backlog

There is little doubt that many North Carolina voters have grown impatient with our federal government. Democrats and Republicans alike are frustrated with the snail's pace at which improvements are made to Washington D.C.'s bureaucracy.

One of the agencies often the target of voter ire: the Social Security Administration. In particular, Social Security Disability has a backlog that troubles SSDI applicants, their families and the politicians who oversee the program.

A recent hearing of the House of Representatives' Social Security Subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee took at a look at the challenges SSA faces in determining who is eligible for SSDI benefits.

Rep. Sam Johnson of Texas, chair of the subcommittee, said too many Americans are spending years waiting to get answers from SSA about disability benefits.

"Today, over 1 million people are waiting for a hearing with a Social Security Administrative Law Judge," Johnson said. "On average, these folks will wait around 600 days to get that hearing. That's nearly two years!"

Of course, not all applicants will qualify for benefits, but they too deserve timely replies to their claims.

It should be noted that those who have their claim rejected may appeal the decision with the help of a qualified attorney experienced in SSDI claims.

Chair Johnson called on the administration to nominate a Social Security Commissioner who will come up with a workable plan fix the backlog problem.

The Director of Education, Workforce and Income Security Issues at the GAO said SSA has to update its processes, policies and tools used in determining eligibility. Some have not been upgraded in decades, she said.

Let's hope solutions to the dire backlog problem are soon implemented so that people who need SSDI help can get it promptly. 

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