In a perfect world, every Social Security Disability case would be promptly handled and cleared, freeing up officials to work on the next case, and the one after, and the one after that. People would happily accept their SSD benefits and move on, while the system took care of the people that kept applying. However, we don't live in a perfect world. SSDI cases are constantly thrown into backlog, and the number of cases isn't dwindling -- it's only growing.
Having a case in backlog is stressful and anxiety-inducing for the applicant. They need their benefits, given that they can't work anymore and that they have contributed to the system. So why are there so many cases in backlog, and why does the number keep growing?
First, some background. The SSDI backlog first became major news nearly a decade ago, when it was revealed that 743,800 cases were in backlog. Since then, the number has ballooned to over 1 million cases.
There are myriad reasons for this, as it is a very complex problem. But a few basic pillars of the problem are resources, judges and an expanding population.
More and more people are getting older and, thus, are trying to utilize the Social Security system. The population of the United States is also far greater than it was many years ago, and as such, there are simply more cases of people becoming disabled and needing financial help.
At the same time, judges are being overworked and they don't have the necessary resources to cope with their workload. That has led to many judges working inefficiently, and some judges even quitting outright.
Source: Buffalo News, "Another Voice: Lack of resources is behind backlog in Social Security disability cases," Jeffrey Freedman, Nov. 3, 2015