Does the Biden Administration Have the Answer to SSDI Woes?
President Joe Biden’s 2022 budget proposal will provide the Social Security Administration (SSA) with a 9.7% or $1.3 billion increase in funding. The boost could go a long way toward addressing the pandemic-related challenges that SSA programs like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) have faced. The increased delays in issuing SSDI decisions and processing times amid the COVID-19 pandemic have had tangible consequences, such as higher depression rates and missed mortgage payments.
Backlog of SSDI Cases
SSDI applications backlog is a problem that dates back to before the COVID-19 pandemic. About 110,000 Americans died in the last decade while awaiting a final disability benefits determination. The wait times increased dramatically after the pandemic began. The backlog of unresolved applications waiting for a decision rose by 30% in 2020 to 763,747, up from 593,944 in the year before. The average processing times for the applications increased by 11 days during the pandemic.
Expected Increase in SSDI Claims
An Italian study found that 87.4% of people who had COVID-19 and recovered had one or more lingering, long-term effects like heart damage and reduced lung capacity. The findings suggest that the lingering symptoms will increase SSDI applications due to work-disrupting disabling effects. SSA will be required to process the new disability claims in addition to the already delayed existing applications. That could lengthen wait times even more.
Studies have found long wait times to have the following effects on people with disabilities:
- Worsening of primary illness
- Having to borrow money from family or friends to survive
- Missed loan or credit card payments
These are some of the effects that push Social Security disability attorneys to help their clients get the benefits they need as soon as possible to enable them to move forward with their lives.
Rebuilding the SSDI Program
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the problems that the SSA was facing. Congress approving the proposed boost to SSA funding will significantly help undo the damage brought about by the pandemic disruptions. The money would help reduce the rising SSDI applications backlog. According to SSA estimates, the increased funding would bring down the average annual average processing time for decisions from the 386 days recorded in the fiscal year 2020 to 270 days in 2022.
SSA has been making technological improvements to give beneficiaries and applicants more options. The additional money would provide a significant boost to the administration’s long-term modernization projects.
Implementing the President’s budget would not solve every problem the SSA is facing but would be a positive step forward for SSDI beneficiaries and applicants.