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Waiting for a California judge to hear an appeal

Putting together an application for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can be stressful. Californians who are familiar with previous posts here know that there is quite a bit of information that the Social Security Administration will need to review to make a determination regarding an applicant's qualifications to receive SSD benefits. But, for about 60 percent of applicants, there is a bigger problem: being denied benefits.

Facing a denied claim can be even more stressful, but fortunately, there are options to appeal. However, according to a recent report, there is an unfortunate reality for people who are going through the appeals process: it may be quite a long time before an administrative law judge gets around to hearing your appeal.

While the availability of administrative law judges varies from city to city, many major metropolitan areas throughout the country are seeing wait times as long as 20 months. The recent report on the delays stated that the Social Security Administration estimates that the average wait time is about 16 months.

For a person who is earning no income due to a disability, that timeframe can be crushing for their finances. This is yet another reason why it is so important that an initial application for Social Security Disability benefits needs to be as strong as possible. While only about four out of 10 applications for SSD benefits are approved, taking the right steps to strengthen the initial application for benefits can be a good approach toward doing your best to ensure you are in the 40 percent of applicants who are approved.

Source: Union-Bulletin, "Waits plague Social Security disability process," Kelli Kennedy, Dec. 11, 2015

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