SSA Disability Applications Backlogged Up to 3 Years

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is so backlogged that disabled claimants must often wait two to three years for their benefit checks to start rolling in. In a report to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, the SSA said it can take as long as 1,150 days to process an application.

"The result is that disabled Americans are left to spend hundreds of days in limbo without critical help," Baucus said.

The SSA receives more than 2 million applications for disability benefits each year. Out of 100 applicants, on average 40 will be approved in about 125 days, the agency said. Many of the other cases are backlogged because of legal appeals and other procedures. About 200,000 cases were backlogged at the administrative judge level in 2001.

Social Security Commissioner Jo Anne Barnhart said that reducing the backlog would require additional staff and a minimum of $400 million more for the agency''s budget.

To download the statement of Sen. Baucus in PDF (Adobe Acrobat) format, click here.