Asking for help may be difficult for California residents who have spent their lives working hard to remain financially independent but suddenly find themselves unable to work due to a disabling condition. Getting them to file for Social Security Disability benefits is a triumph in and of itself, given the perceived stigma attached to getting SSD benefits, but when budget cuts threaten the Social Security Administration's ability to provide effective and timely service, even the most patient person may reconsider their application.
The Social Security Administration provides essential services to the nearly 67 million people receiving SSD benefits for one reason or another and the expected one million new claimants annually. They have more than 1200 field offices, a website and a toll-free phone service where people can call to clear their queries. However, with staff shortages the wait time for all these services has drastically increased.
The average waiting time to get through to a customer service agent is thirty minutes, which increases to two hours during peak times. Long lines outside the field offices means disabled claimants stand outside for hours at end just to ask a claims agent a single question. People are waiting around 600 days for a hearing on their disability insurance claim and may be lacking the financial resources they need to make ends during that time.
While changes are being made to address this shortage, it is important to keep in mind that one does not have to go through this journey alone. Experienced lawyers often know tactics to expedite claims and keep their claim at the top of the pile and this can be beneficial for those who need to get the SSD benefits they deserve.