It may be more important than ever to understand how to fill out an application for Social Security disability benefits and to understand eligibility requirements and appeals options. Individuals who have applied for benefits, requested the first level of appeal and are now seeking a hearing before an administrative law judge are waiting a record amount of time for a hearing which is the second level of appeal in the application process.

The average wait time for a hearing is now 596 days which has increased from 353 days in 2012. Overall, the backlog of cases waiting for a hearing is about 1.1 million currently which is up from 700,000 in 2010. At times, once an application for disability benefits has been approved, retroactive benefits may be available. The monthly benefit depends on the disabled individual’s earnings but the average is $1,170. To be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits, the disabled individual must have sufficient work history, which varies according to the circumstances, and suffer from a physical or mental medical condition that prevents them from engaging in substantial gainful activity and is expected to last a year or longer or result in death.

Social Security disability benefits can be challenging to obtain and the process can be complex and lengthy but that should not deter disabled individuals from seeking the benefits they oftentimes badly need. There are 4 levels of appeal following a denial of the initial application which makes it important to apply as soon as possible and be as familiar with the application process as much as possible rather than deciding not to seek benefits.

Disabled individuals seeking Social Security disability benefits may be badly in need of the benefits and suffer financial hardship without them. As a result, it is important for them to understand the details of the process and apply sooner rather than later to begin the application and appeals process without further delay.

Source: sfchronicle.com, “Wait time for federal disability benefits appeal hits a record,” Kathleen Pender, Aug. 19, 2017