Social Security Disability: The Ultimate Waiting Game

middle aged man sitting down, head on hands, looking worried and upset

The process for Social Security Disability is not an easy one, and it certainly is not fast. At the initial application level there are very low approval rates, extremely over-worked Social Security employees, and incredible hardships faced by the claimants. All of this mixed together results in a frustrating experience for the person who is trying to secure an income to help their family.

One of the hardest parts of the entire process is the waiting. You can’t work, you have no income, the bills are piling up, and there are notices coming in almost weekly. It seems like there is no end in sight.

After you submit your request for a hearing, the biggest wait time begins. The wait times for a hearing vary between each office. Here are Michigan’s hearing offices and their average wait times for cases that were heard in September, 2016:

  • Detroit 15 months
  • Flint 18 months
  • Grand Rapids 18 months
  • Lansing 17 months
  • Livonia 13 months
  • Mt. Pleasant 19 months
  • Oak Park 16 months

In comparison, the shortest waiting period belongs to Fort Smith, AR at 8 months, and the longest waiting period is in Ponce, Puerto Rico at 27 months (25 months in Buffalo, NY is the highest for states). The average wait time for all of the hearing offices is 17.7 months which shows that Michigan is experiencing roughly average wait times.

One of the biggest contributing factors is the huge backlog of cases. Since there is such a low approval rating on the initial applications, there is a huge number of people filing appeals. The more people with appeals pending in a certain area, the longer the wait time.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel though. For the 2016 fiscal year, more hearings were heard than scheduled.

If you are finding yourself in a hardship situation, you may be able to speed up your case. This is never guaranteed, and there are no definite set of guidelines for approval, but it is always worth a shot.

Additionally, if you need help with food, bills, or general living expenses, please check out the Resources area of our website, contact the United Way at 411, or look into local charities and churches.

I will never forget you and the hard work you did to secure my Social Security Disability benefits. Thank you!

- Christine C.