Do people go bankrupt due to the long wait for disability benefits?

The unfortunate answer to this question is yes, they do. Why does this happen? For a couple of reasons. One is that the Social Security Disability, SSI disability system moves incredibly slow. Most applicants for SSD or SSI, even if they have never spoken to anyone else who has filed for disability, have an intuitive sense that applying for disability will involve a lot of waiting. However, most would be absolutely stunned to learn just how long a claim can take.

For most claimants, the experience will be something like this: their disability application will be denied several months after they apply. If they file an appeal (reconsideration), then this will consume several more months. If this appeal is denied and a claimant decides to file the next appeal (a request for a disability hearing), then the wait may involve 12-24 months of additional waiting (the wait for a hearing depends on where you live since hearings offices around the country have different levels of backlogs).

Obviously, when the entire disability application and appeal process can take 2-3 years to get through, its not difficult to see that many applicants would end up going bankrupt at some point. Therefore, an incredibly slow disability system is certainly to blame.

However, there are many instances in which an individual filing for benefits could have been put themselves in a better position to withstand the financial rigor of this extended process. How do you put yourself in a better position?

1. If your medical or mental condition prevents you from being able to work and earn a substantial and gainful income, file for disability. Don't think about it. Don't ponder it. Simply file the application for disability. If your condition remisses (gets better), then, of course, you can always withdraw your application. But at least you will have something "in the pipe" in the event that your condition does not get better.

2. If you get denied on a Social Security Disability or SSI application, don't wait to file an appeal. SSA gives you two months to file your appeal but this certainly does not mean that you should wait two months to file your appeal.

Remember, when it comes to your financial situation, time is of the essence. And though you can't speed up the process in most cases, there is no reason to allow a claim to take any longer than it absolutely has to.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

Most popular topics on

Social Security Disability in North Carolina

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Tips to Prepare for Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI

Advice to Win SSD and SSI Benefit Claims

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

Related pages:

Social Security Disability Requirements
Filing a Social Security Disability or SSI application
SSI disability qualifications for adults and children
Permanent disabilility qualifications

These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

Disability qualifications - Who will qualify is based on functional limitations
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
What conditions do they Award Disability Benefits for?
How does back pay for Social Security Disability work?
What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI? Part I
To get a Social Security Disability or SSI Award do you have to have a Permanent Disability?
Social Security Disability Status - when should I call to check
Do Lawyers Improve The Chances of Winning Social Security Disability or SSI?
What is qualifying for disability based on?
How to qualify for disability - The Process of Qualifying for Benefits
Receiving a Social Security Disability Award Letter
How long does it take to get disability?
Filing and applying for disability in Texas