Oct 27, 2014

Thousands Die Each Year Waiting For Action On Their Social Security Disability Claims

     For decades there have been newspaper articles on Social Security disability claimants dying while their cases were being adjudicated. We'll soon have a study of these deaths. It's to be released on November 1. However, the abstract is out now. The authors say they identified 24 conditions where claimants are unlikely to survive the adjudication process. However, the big takeaway from the abstract is that they found that 42,000 people died while their disability claims were being adjudicated during the time period 1996 to 2007. That's thousands of deaths a year. Certainly some of these deaths were unavoidable because the claimants lived only a short time after filing their claims but not all. 

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is another meaningless study.

Unless it corrected for the number of people that would be expected to die within whatever age range it studied, this is not worth reading.

In other words, people die all the time. Some people die, even though they are not waiting for SS benefits. Is the percent of people who died, while waiting for benefits, larger than the percent of people in that age range that would be expected to die?

I have a feeling, that of the approximately 1,000,000 backlog, 2,000 deaths per year is probably right in the range of what would be expected of random set of people, comprised of the same age, over the same period of time.

On another note, even if the percent was greater than the regular population....what should be done about this? Probably nothing.

Anonymous said...

These people don't die waiting for SSA. They die waiting for the hundreds of thousands of weak claims ahead of them gumming up the system.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that the study is meaningless, but your point is well taken that the figures should be contrasted with expected mortality in the general population for the relevant age groups. We will have to wait for the final report to see if they do that.

We already know that people with disabilities tend to have a shorter life expectancy on average, but the question of whether claimants die more often when their claims are pending will be interesting to explore.

Suicide rates during claim pendency would be particularly interesting to study and contrast. I would expect such a study to show that prolonged exposure to significant stressors (severe poverty, inability to work, unstable living situation, lack of access to reasonable mental health treatment, permanent severe symptoms, repeated claim denials, etc.) would tend to increase suicide rates in claimants with mental impairments.

I like that the study is identifying conditions that make claimants unlikely to survive the adjudication process. As a rep I try to identify those cases and give them expedited handling. To the degree that SSA can identify and expedite those claims, that's good. I will be interested to see if the types of conditions that the study identify match my anecdotal experience, and it may suggest other types of claims I should expedite.

Anonymous said...

Well, when I have a 25% dismissal rate, I would say that a lot of the backlog is Reps encouraging everyone to apply for benefits whether they are disabled or not. Every dismissal takes up time and effort by everyone at SSA.

Anonymous said...

9:23: who would reps "encourage everyone to apply for benefits whether they are disabled or not?" Recall that a rep only receives a fee if the case is approved. We have a hard enough time getting legitimate claims approved. We turn away many more potential clients than we accept.

Anonymous said...

And I think you'll find that the data shows dismissals are disproportionately unrepped; though I would be interested to know how many of those unrepped cases started off as repped...

Anonymous said...

Not sure how generally this might apply, but I can provide some figures for perspective. At the height of the backlog in 2010, 5% of my clientele died while awaiting hearings (out of about 200 pending cases). At that time, I turned down about 25% of potential clients. Because of the current low pay rate, I now turn down roughly 30% of potential clients. Fortunately, only 2 deaths this year--so far.

As far as dismissals go, I have a hearing within a month for a guy who has attempted work 3 times during his wait and has only managed to last about a month on each job before his medical condition led to his termination or quitting because of hospitalization. He now wants to drop his case--I suspect severe depression and the anxiety of facing an ALJ, but I'm attempting to convince him to appear, as his case is strong, and he has an ALJ who will actually evaluate the evidence.

Anonymous said...

This biggest backlogger is ERISA long term disability. The force everyone to apply for SSDI. You can have a broken toe, they will force you to apply or lose your LTD. Gone were the days when you had LTD and stayed on it until retirement.

Anonymous said...

7:42

That's states' and local municipalities' systems, too. One of the only accurate and beneficial parts of that NPR hitpiece on SSA benefits was that local gov't are falling all over themselves (and paying consultants a ton of money) to get their citizens qualified for federal benefits and off their dole.

Everybody is passing the buck, and SSA is the last stop; there is nowhere else to go.

Anonymous said...

I seen a disability judge last month they told me i would get a decision in the mail 12-17 months.

Anonymous said...

How many countless individuals commit suicide after waiting so long that they have lost everything including their homes and cannot get medical care. They should count as well. It is horrible!

Willie Toliver said...

ZT said....

I'm 41 years old and have been waiting for ssdi for over 4years, I was raised to be independent and to take care of my self. After multiple mental and physical disorders that i work with for over 25 years my body couldn't keep my secret of mental illness and joint dease anymore. Homeless three times and two attempted suicides. Also a dr that has caused permanet brain damage. Because of a lack of skills treating multiple illness. I am problibly one of thousands, that are so deppressed that they can't work. Who wants to live like this, and some don't and they take their own lives. This is a huge problem in our sociaty the 20,30, and 40 years that are not suppose to be sick. well reality is everyone is not faking or don't wont to work and we are the ones who are suffering.

Anonymous said...

You missed the whole point. Yeah maybe they were going to die anyway six months into the process. So what? Right? What that means is they lived the last month's of their lives with no money. Sometimes no home because of it. Their quality of life could have been happier with their needs met instead of the pain they went through with no money. What should be done about this? Speed up the process. They tell you, 'this will take 4-12 months.' Yet they send form after form they want you to get signed by a doctor, returned to them within 10 days. It's an excruciating process when you are sick! I've often said, 'if social security gets all the forms and tasks done they ask of you, it should be an automatic denial because anybody who can jump through all their hoops must be well. Jk but you get my point I hope.

Anonymous said...

Based on all these replies, it makes me want to give up on my case 5 months in even though I'm diagnosed as a quadriplegic. Luckily my parents are helping me out, but depression is getting to me to know that our government doesn't care enough to prioritize claims. Like someone said, the system is backlogged with silly claims making real disabled people wait a long time.

Anonymous said...

I have waited a year and half..I have a disability attorney, who has done absolutely nothing. I am a 49 year old female with no children, I am not a drug addict. So, I am not a priority. I worked two to three jobs since I was 16years old. I have no family..my adopted family bailed on me I put my self through college and took care of my siblings children. My brother OD on heroin. I have lost everything do to my illnesses. Husband, home, personal belongings, etc. I have the following diagnosis with doctors writing letters etc. I have an autoimmune disease: Fibromyalgia, inflammatory joint disease, inflammatory retina eye disease, bladder disease, crowns disease. And I may be on the streets before I am granted my disability. What can we do to advocate for others who are going thru this horifying experience????!!!

Anonymous said...

I started working in 1973, had a disabling accident in 1979, changed what i did for a living to a sedentary job and kept working... I had a stroke delivering my first child in 1987, took off a year and went back to work doing something sedentary and less demanding.... When, in 1992, I found I could no longer perform even THAT work well enough to stay employed, I filed for disability. My husband left me with 4 small children. I was denied for 10 years and 2 months before I got - not the SDI of about $2000/mo that i should have been due - but the minimum SSI. By the time it went through the system and finally got to court, i had not had significant work in the last 10 years. I had *just* managed to keep my home by doing without water or electricity - most of my children's growing up our family got by on less than $5000/yr. After that we got by on about $10,000/yr. Every few years I get a ridiculous letter claiming I own too much (I never have), or have too much previously paid and must pay them back instantly (this has never actually been true), or just not gotten a payment without any explanation, sometimes for months. I would really like to know how many disabled women are forced to live with men they do not like, to eat and stay indoors, or for their children to eat and stay indoors - and how many of those women and children are abused or killed. I would like to know how many people could have recovered from their disability or avoided worsening their condition with the medical coverage that would have been available to them had they received disability payments and Medicaide for a time - and would be earning and living fuller lives now. I wonder how many have died. This whole system could be more economically run if it were to address disability and rehabilitation promptly, and did not churn out horror and suffering to ipose on people at their most vulnerable.

trppytoes said...

It's true you do think about suicide daily when you're waiting to hear from the government. I'm mean you have zero money, sometimes no place to sleep, and you always have to ask people to do stuff for you. In my opinion what's the point of life if that's how my life will always be.

Unknown said...

My brother is a paraplegics. He can't walk due to a genetic disorder that left him unable to walk. He can't walk and his condition is severe. He had a pulmonary saddle embolism right after surgery too and has autonomic dysfunction now too. With all this he can't be left alone at all. He is three Kidd to take care of. I can't work cause I take care of him. Our only income is my mother's income. We don't have water on and barely have electrics on. No car, we go to the er 3 or more times a month plus doctors appointments 2 times a week.he has Medicaid but they don't approved the supplies he needs either. We barely are getting by. It's been six months since he applied for ssi and disability. We fear he'll die before he gets anything. The doctors say he needs his medical supplies. Physical therapy, and home health care as some as possible or he will die. Any chance of him walking again is long gone. He had a chance to recover possible but he hasn't gotten any help at all. Every day we wait is time lost and he is getting worse. They must think he will be able to walk soon but that's simply not the case.

Anonymous said...

I have been waiting over a year. I am homeless and have a debilitating depression. I am waiting on an appeal decision any day now. I am certain the depression will get the best of me if i am denied then ss will be happy they get to keep all the money ive paid in so they can give it to one of my junkie cousins who never worked a day in their lives

Anonymous said...

I am currently waiting for a decision from the hearing judge for disability. I began working at age 15, and am now 57. I filed in September, 2015, after becoming disabled in April. In the meantime, have lost my vehicle, home, and have to sell my belongings to buy food. I recently applied and received food stamps for the first time in my life, which alone adds to my depression. Suicide? Yes, I have and am contemplating suicide because the position I am in, is not worth staying alive for. You, anonymous, apparently have no clue. My contemplation of suicide is due to the sutuation, but is extremely exasperated by the timelime of the Social Security Administration process.

Anonymous said...

I have been denied SSDI and SSI now twice at the hearing level. the first time it went to the Appeals counsel and they upheld the ALJ decision. I had my second hearing on July 7, 2017 and was denied on July 28,2017 The judge I had this time didn't listen to me or my attorney he had made up his decision way before my hearing. Every time I get denied it's like putting another nail in my coffin. I have severe PTSD, severe depression and have problems with anxiety. I don't have a job and can't find one no one wants to hire anyone over 55. The VE said there where no jobs I could do in the national economy. I've already planned out how I will commit suicide if the Appeals Council denies me again. I most of the time live in my car. I was denied widows benefits after my husband died and have lost everything I had. I don't have any help from my family they wouldn't notice if I was alive or dead. Getting SSDI and SSI is a total joke.