Since the creation of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the standard of life for millions in West Virginia has been preserved. The program was designed to replace lost income for workers who have become too ill or disabled for gainful, full-time employment.
When Social Security Disability approval is granted, it can take some financial pressure off of families. But, how long does the average applicant have to wait for relief?
How does Social Security Disability Insurance work?
Social Security Disability Insurance is a separate program from Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI provides benefits available to people with disabilities regardless of work history or age. The program was created to provide basic financial assistance if someone of any age cannot work due to a genetic or chronic condition and meets the income threshold.
For example, parents with few financial resources can receive this assistance on behalf of children with conditions like autism. Low-income adults who have a qualifying condition can also receive payments.
Eligibility and disbursements are different for SSDI recipients.
Who qualifies for SSDI?
The Social Security Disability Insurance program is only available to those who have earned credits through their employment and developed a qualifying condition that prevents them from working for an extended period.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines disability as the “inability to do any substantial gainful activity because of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”
Proving such a disability often requires completing a significant amount of documentation, including medical evaluations and prognoses.
Average turnaround time from application to approval
There are currently more than one million people awaiting approval for SSDI benefits. This is the agency’s highest backlog level for approval since 2008.
The average turnaround time for approval or denial was 3 – 4 months, but that time frame has doubled over the years.
The reasons for the extended wait times are several, including:
- Loss of contributing workers, especially since the pandemic
- Fewer human and financial resources available to process applications
- Fewer employees paying into the program at the state level
To address shortfalls and process the increase in applications, Congress is considering a request for an additional $800 million in funding.