The announcement that President Joe Biden’s budget Budget proposal 2022 providing a 9.7%, or $ 1.3 billion, increase in funding to the Social Security Administration is certainly a promising step towards a post-pandemic return to normal.
Like many government agencies, the SSA has closed most of its field offices to protect the health of employees and customers during COVID-19, but the ripple effect for those applying for disability insurance is security social, or SSDI, has been devastating.
Amid the pandemic, the backlog of disability claims pending a decision has increased by 30%, from 593,944 in 2019 to 763,747 last year. Request processing times increased by 11 days, meaning the average request took 131 days for the SSA to be processed. These delays have tangible consequences – from missed mortgage payments to increasing rates of depression – which is why an increase in SSA funding could be a lifesaver for millions of Americans with disabilities.
The backlog of SSDI requests was an issue even before the pandemic, but wait times have increased dramatically since the start. Without additional funding to help ease the burden, the lives of millions of people will be on the line. Over the past decade, 110,000 Americans died while awaiting a decision on their disability benefits.
Existing apps aren’t the only problem SSA will face in the coming months. According to a 2020 Italian studies, 87.4% of people who recovered from COVID-19 had at least one long-term persistent symptom, such as fatigue, reduced lung capacity, or heart damage. These results indicate that initial requests for SSDI will continue to increase as more people are diagnosed with long-term disability from COVID-19. As these cases move to the hearing stage, wait times will likely increase even more than they did last year.