Eileen Gabaldon’s husband, Larry, died waiting for a ruling on his Social Security disability claim.
Last year, 7,400 people on wait lists had died, according to a report by Social Security’s inspector general.
More than 1 million Americans are awaiting a hearing with an average wait of two years. The average wait time in Fort Worth is 483 days, which is one of the faster rates in the country, according to statistics provided by the Social Security Administration.
Go ahead and complain
Initially Eileen Gabaldon, a human resources manager for a law firm in Fort Worth, and others who contacted the Star-Telegram, said they were hesitant to air their grievances publicly for fear it would be detrimental to their cases.
Those fears are unfounded, said prominent disability attorney Charles Hall of Raleigh, N.C. He believes the Social Security Administration follows press reports and “perhaps usually speeds up the process when a case gets reported.”
Are there other ways to speed up the process?
Here are some tips:
Experts recommend those who become disabled and submit a claim for Social Security disability benefits retain a lawyer or seek representation from a company that specializes in disability claims, such as Allsup.
Social Security offers those hardest hit financially — people who are living with family or friends, or are forced to live out of a vehicle or in a shelter, or who live in a residence without utilities — an avenue to expedite the process.
Wounded veterans, those with terminal illness or people who are suicidal also qualify to have their cases expedited.
Hall’s tip for disability benefits: Start the process of filing for benefits immediately.
“If a claimant gets better, they can always return to work ... ,” he said. “It’s bad enough if you file the claim quickly. It’s so much worse if you wait until you’re homeless.”
Claimants who think they have been retaliated against or treated unfairly can file an unfair treatment complaint.