Nebraska is in the bottom 10 of all states when it comes to a backlog of residents waiting for a hearing to receive Social Security Disability Insurance. Rebecca Ray is a spokesperson for Allsup, a SSDI representation company.
“Nationally, the Social Security Administration issued a report they have improved the wait time nationwide, and they have. We recently issued a report looking at people living in certain states such as Nebraska on how they are dealing with the wait time and what their wait times are like. In Nebraska, the average processing time for a hearing is 525-days.”
Ray says the hearing process is the final step in the application process if a person has been denied previously.
“They may have applied for benefits and have been denied at the first level, which is fairly common. About two-thirds of folks are denied at that level. Then they have to come back and appeal that denial, it goes to another level. At the third level, that is this wait time we are talking about so they may have been waiting 12 months or more and now they are at the hearing level and that wait time is 525 days in Nebraska.”
Ray says it isn’t uncommon for a person to wait two-and-a-half years before they receive their first disability check. She says this is a benefit most people pay for monthly.
“You are funding your retirement, your funding Medicare. You are also funding this program, Social Security Disability Insurance. This is something that everyone who is paying their payroll taxes or FICA, is eligible for if they meet the Social Security’s definition of disability.”
Ray says most people can not go without some kind of income for that long of a period of time and therefore suffer many hardships.
“Stress on family which was about 63-percent. Their illness got worse, 53-percent of folks said that happened. They drained their retirement or savings. About 35-percent of folks used up all their retirement money, savings, 401K, whatever they may have set aside for retirement, they are using to get them through this waiting period to get their SSDI income. Another 24-percent said they lost their health insurance. 14-percent of folks missed mortgage payments. In the real extreme results are the folks that don’t have any other kind of income to help them through this process, 6-percent experienced foreclosure and 5-percent had to file for bankruptcy.”
Ray says if you are going to apply for SSDI, be ready to get in line and get ready to wait.
“The number of claims pending at the hearing level in Nebraska was 2,963. And, keep in mind in the earlier levels, for those who have just applied, that number is about 3,266. So, all together, you have more than 6,000 people in Nebraska going through this process.”
The National wait time at the hearing level is just over 14 months. Other states that have the longest wait time include Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, the District of Columbia and Alabama.