The backlog of 1.1 million people currently awaiting determinations or an appeal hearings on their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims is no laughing matter, but it’s about to get the much-needed attention it deserves. Congress approved approximately $150 million to address the backlogged hearings and related activities just before the 115th Congress recessed for the holidays.

“Disability applicants who have appealed and are waiting for a hearing need to know the agency has more resources and may be able to reduce the backlog sooner than the original projection of 2020. On average, SSDI applicants are waiting about 26 months from their time of initial application for a hearing decision,” said Mike Stein, assistant vice president of claims with Allsup. “Hopefully, some of these dollars can be applied to overtime and other staffing to adjudicate claims more quickly. This is critical as thousands more people fall into financial and health devastation while waiting.”1

How Exactly Will the Funding Be Used?

Congress Funds Program to get Backlogged SSDI Claims | Portland Social Security Income Lawyer

Congress Funds Program to get Backlogged SSDI Claims | Portland Social Security Income Lawyer

The Social Security Administration received the funding and plans to use it to staff up to try and make an immediate impact reducing the backlog of those who have applied for disability benefits and are now currently awaiting a hearing decision. The following list are some of the actions the SSA has taken thanks to the funds appropriation:

  • The SSA has hired more judges to reduce the backlog and wait time. In 2016, the agency exceeded its hiring goal of 264 Administrative Law Judges (ALJ). In 2015, there were 202 hired; and 77 in 2014.
  • The ALJs will also require training to begin reducing the backlog of appeals and determinations.

What Else Can Be Done to Expedite Disability Claims and Appeals?

Another hindrance to the SSDI application and appeal process has been a reduction in Disability Determination Service (DDS) workers by 14 percent since 2010. Basically, that reduction equated to a loss of nearly 2,000 staff members who could no longer process claims. Here are a few other efforts being undertaken to help reduce the burden of the SSDI application and appeals backlog:2

  • In 2016, the SSA also released its plan dubbed Compassionate and Responsive Services (CARES) to reduce benefit determination waits by FY 2020.
  • One of SSAs partnerships is with Allsup, which has a tool that individuals can use to go online and find out if they qualify for SSDI benefits. If an individual completes the online assessment and it comes back with successful results, the person should then immediately start filling out a disability insurance application.

Contact a Portland Disability Lawyer at the Law Firm of Richard A. Sly

You’ve paid into the system for years and you have hit the wall because of an unfortunate injury or disability that makes it impossible for you work a normal job. It’s time to contact Portland Disability Lawyer Richard A. Sly, who is a champion of those who have become injured or disabled and need a legal hand up to get them through the red tape of the Social Security Disability Insurance process and get the maximum benefits offered under the law.

For more than 30 years, Portland Disability Lawyer Richard A. Sly has helped his clients get the best possible outcomes for their disability and SSI benefits. Sly is a veteran of Social Security law, and he will help you prevent costly errors that could either give you reduced benefits or none at all. He also has a proven record of winning appeals as well.

Get a free, initial consult with Sly to talk over your case and see what your best options are by calling (503) 406-1471 or email us using the form on the upper right side of this page. Sly has an office right in downtown Portland conveniently located near public transportation, but he also serves clients throughout the rest of the state of Oregon as well as Washington.


1“AP NewsBreak: Clinton will reflect on 2016 race in new book” published by Associated Press, February 2017.

2“Report: Staff Losses Worsen Social Security Disability Claims Backlog as 1.1 Million Wait for Hearing” published by PR Webb, September 2016.