Getting an initial decision on your Social Security disability claim from the Social Security Administration (SSA) can take a long time to begin with. Waiting for an answer to hear if your request for reconsideration was approved could take a significant amount of time as well. The delay could be a result of a lack of resources or that there are issues with your claim.
At Pilzer Klein, our Greenville, SC, Social Security Disability lawyers understand that it’s a stressful process. That’s why we’re here to explain factors that often delay reconsideration decisions.
Lack of Staff and Funding
One major factor that contributes to longer wait times for disability reconsideration decisions is understaffing at the state disability determination services (DDS) agencies. These state agencies are responsible for reviewing initial applications and reconsideration requests, but they have faced increasingly large caseloads over the years without corresponding increases in resources.
Budget constraints at both the state and federal levels have meant the DDS offices have not been able to hire enough examiners, medical consultants, clerks, and support personnel to handle the high volume of incoming work. This lack of adequate staffing creates backlogs where cases have to wait weeks or months before even being assigned to an examiner. Examiners then have overwhelming caseloads, which makes it difficult for them to give each reconsideration request the thorough time and attention it requires.
According to the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the SSA is in a crisis. In the last decade, the number of people who receive benefits has increased to 25%, whereas The Administration’s budget has decreased by 17%. And its hiring is down 50%.
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Incomplete Social Security Disability Claim
If your initial disability application is missing important documentation or information when you submit it, it can significantly lengthen the time for reconsideration. State disability examiners are required to make sure your file is fully developed before making a determination.
An incomplete file will likely result in the examiner having to issue a request for additional evidence from you. This stops the reconsideration clock until the examiner receives all the requested documents from you. Common examples include missing treatment records, diagnostic test results, work history forms, or third-party evidence from family/employers.
You may also be asked to clarify details about your medical conditions, job duties, or daily activities. Responding to these requests and providing supplementary materials can take weeks or months, extending the overall reconsideration timeline.
Delayed Review of Medical Records
Another reason it may be taking a long time to hear back about your request for reconsideration is delayed medical records. When you filed your reconsideration request, the SSA probably asked if you have received medical care recently. If you answered yes, the examiner reached out to your doctor for your medical records.
Additional medical evidence is always good to have as it can increase your chances of receiving your disability benefits. However, if your doctor takes time to reply, in turn, the person waiting to review your claim has to wait longer to receive the records.
How Can Pilzer Klein Help You Prevent Delays in Your Disability Reconsideration Decision?
Working with an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer in Greenville, SC, to handle your reconsideration request can help cut down on unnecessary waiting periods. We know how to properly organize your medical records and highlight the strongest parts of your case. We can ensure your file is complete with all necessary documentation from the start.
As attorneys, we are familiar with the reconsideration process and what types of issues cause processing delays. We may be able to identify potential problems early on and work with the state agency to resolve them. For example, our team can proactively request medical experts review complex conditions.
How Our Experience Helps Us Help You
We have over 50 years of combined experience representing clients; we understand how to communicate effectively with state examiners on your behalf. We can follow up on the status of your case to help avoid it getting lost in the backlog.
Most importantly, our skilled representation increases your chances of success, which means no need to proceed further through lengthier appeals. By building a strong case initially, we can help you avoid long wait times downstream with a faster approval of your reconsideration request.
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What Should You do While You Wait for Your Reconsideration Decision?
According to the SSA’s annual report of reconsideration processing times, in 2022, it took 183 days to process its reconsideration decisions. While this does not mean that you’ll have a similar wait time, it can be helpful to know what to expect.
The reconsideration process can take time, and it’s natural to feel anxious waiting for a decision on your request. As you await the outcome, focus on these steps you can take:
- Continue seeing your doctors and following your prescribed treatment plan. Make sure to submit any new medical notes or test results to your file.
- Notify Social Security promptly of any changes in your address, medical conditions, or other life circumstances that could impact eligibility.
- Ask your doctor for a functional capacity evaluation detailing abilities, limitations, and estimated work restrictions.
- Gather additional evidence from third parties to corroborate the severity of symptoms, like letters from family or former employers.
- Contact your local disability determination services if you haven’t received an update within the expected processing time and ask about the status of your request.
Learn More About Why Your Disability Reconsideration Is Taking So Long
Our Social Security Disability attorney in Greenville, SC, understands waiting to hear back from the SSA can be nerve-wracking. That’s why at Pilzer Klein, our team is passionate about helping you understand every step of the process and help you get the disability benefits you need.
Contact us today for a free consultation.