I Live in San Francisco- Why Does It Take so Long for a Decision to be Made on my Case?
If you live in San Francisco and have applied for disability benefits, you are probably aware that it usually takes several months to receive an initial decision on your case. This is not uncommon- there are several reasons why it takes 4-6 months to receive your first decision and up to a year or more after that if you are denied the first time.
1. Social Security is very backlogged with disability applications, appeals, and hearings. The Baby Boomer generation has caused many more applications to be filed recently. As the number of Social Security offices has remained the same, along with funding, this has caused a backlog in case processing. In some states, it can take almost two years to have a hearing date set, and this is after the initial application and reconsideration appeal have been filed.
2. In order to make a fair decision, Social Security must obtain all the information needed to process your case. This not only includes basic paperwork, but all your medical records relating to your disability, including those that are up to 15 years old. Often, many doctors do not comply with Social Security’s requests for records and thus your case can be delayed several months if your medical records are not received from your doctors and hospitals in a timely manner. It is often helpful for you to obtain as many records as possible before applying for disability benefits to prevent this delay. If you hire a lawyer, they will also help you with this.
3. A certain amount of cases each month are sent to Quality Review. Quality Review is a process that the federal Social Security office uses to ensure that the state offices have made the correct decision on your case. If you case is selected, it can mean an extra 1-2 months to hear a decision.
As you can see, there are a number of factors that cause Social Security to take several months to make a decision on your case. This is not something SSA does purposely but merely a result of their immense backlog. The only way to guarantee to have a case expedited is if you have a terminal illness. Sometimes, if you are in a very dire financial situation and can prove it, Social Security will attempt to expedite your case as well but this is also rare. The best way to ensure that no further delays are placed on your case is to hire a lawyer to help you out- they will keep up with all Social Security requests and paperwork and make sure all your medical records are received in a timely manner. For more information, visit us at www.socialsecuritylaw.com.