More than 27 per day, more than 192 per week and more than 830 per month. That is how many Americans died last year while waiting for Social Security Disability benefits approval, news outlets have reported.
The total for 2017 tops 10,000, according to Social Security records obtained by the Washington Post. More than a million people are today waiting to hear the outcome of their SSDI appeal, with many of them waiting nearly 600 days to find out if they will get the help they need.
“Six hundred days is just flat-out unacceptable,” said a congressional representative at a recent hearing on the backlog.
A man who used to be a truck driver serves as an example of how the backlog affects people. An eye infection has left him legally blind, his medical records show. Unsurprisingly, he is not allowed to continue working as a trucker.
“I’d be a danger to myself and others if I did work,” he said.
Because his vision disability prevents him for working, he applied for SSDI. He expected prompt approval, but learned that his benefits application had been rejected. He was told that an appeal “could take up to 18 months.” Or longer.
The statistics show a sharp increase in SSDI approval delays. In 2013, the backlog was already a staggering 382 days (slightly more than a year). In 2017, the wait had soared to an average of more than 590 days, or more than a year and a half.
At a congressional hearing, a Social Security Administration official said, “To listen and hear the stories about people being deceased before a hearing took place is unacceptable to all of us.”
Let’s hope for and demand improvement from our public servants at Social Security in 2018.