When Los Angeles residents are approved to receive Social Security Disability benefits upon their initial application, they probably consider themselves lucky. Lucky in the sense that many people know that the majority of initial applications are rejected: somewhere in the 60 percent range. And, lucky that they don't then have to go through the process of appealing the initial rejection - especially since the appeals process is bogging down throughout the country.
According to a recent report, the appeals process to get in front of an administrative law judge can, in some cases, take over a year to be reviewed. Many point to the lack of availability among these ALJs, as they are called, to hear Social Security Disability appeals. The Social Security Administration had planned to hire more ALJs in order to address the growing backlog, but the recent federal hiring freeze may put an abrupt halt to that plan.
Some experts are hoping that ALJs can be hired as an exemption to the new executive order instituting the hiring freeze. But that process has yet to play out.
Regardless of the backlog of Social Security Disability appeals, Los Angeles residents who believe they qualify to receive SSD benefits will still want to apply. The key is to make that initial application as strong as possible, so that the appeals process can be avoided altogether. An initial application needs to include all the of the requisite documentation regarding the disability, as well as the proper documentation to show that the applicant has the appropriate amount of work credits.
Source: Bloomberg, "Trump's Hiring Freeze May Worsen 526-Day Disability Case Backlog," Josh Eidelson, Jan. 27, 2017