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Social Security Hiring Freeze May Increase Claim Backlog Problem

An already overstressed Social Security Administration (SSA) that is struggling with a backlog of cases is likely to be even more squeezed after a hiring freeze imposed by the Trump Administration.

President Trump announced a federal hiring freeze that potentially could enhance the current problem the Agency has with large numbers of pending cases. An average claim at SSA can take as long as a year to decide. In the meantime, disability applicants who are already suffering from severe medical conditions are forced to wait anxiously for a decision on their claim.

At special risk are appeals filed by disability applicants who have had their earlier claims denied.  If a person’s claim is denied, he or she has the option of filing an appeal. That can be a long process in itself. The Social Security Administration’s Inspector General says that the average processing time for an appeal in 2016 was 526 days.

Former senior officials with SSA believe that the new hiring freeze, which applies to most federal civilian employees, will only exacerbate the backlog problem because the agency needs more staff and resources, and not cutbacks.  However, they are hopeful that the Social Security Administration will appeal to the Trump Administration for an exemption on the freeze for certain key personnel, including appeals judges, and their clerks.

If your disability claim has been denied, there is no need to panic.  Many disability claims are approved at the appeals stage. It is important that you not become disheartened and give up on your claim.