In the last year, I have seen a dramatic increase in the number of individuals who are seeking Social Security disability benefits primarily because their unemployment compensation benefits are about to run out.

Increasing rates of unemployment have resulted in applications for disability benefits by individuals who simply cannot find employment after being laid-off.  When workers lose their jobs due to the economic downturn and cannot subsequently find employment, they are turning more and more to Social Security disability to make up the shortfall in income. This is especially true if the unemployed worker is over 50 years of age.

That increase in the number of applicants causes another problem: a serious backlog in the system. Nowadays, it is not unusual for a claimant to wait one to two years for a hearing before a social security judge after an initial claim is denied.  There are simply more appeals than there are judges to hear them.

If you are applying for social security disability benefits, or in the process of waiting for a hearing in front of a social security judge, it is important to provide the SSA with updated medical records.  Once your initial application is denied, Social Security will not continue to obtain medical records from your doctors.  This responsibility becomes your responsibility. Given the increased number of applicants, and the lengthy period of time between filing the appeal and appearing before a judge, you must provide the judge with the most complete and current records which support your claim.


Leslie A. Mitnick is a member of Stark & Stark’s Yardley, PA office, specializing in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Ms. Mitnick.