Social Security disability needs fixing

Published Sep 30, 2017 at 4:00pm

The Social Security disability system is suffering a big backlog.

And that means a lot of Americans are suffering as well.

Social Security not only provides for retirement benefits after a certain age, it also serves as a source of income for those who become disabled before they would normally retire. Another program, Supplemental Security Income (or SSI), helps those with disabilities who don’t qualify for traditional Social Security.

It’s hard to get. Almost all applicants are denied at least once and sometimes several times. And once an applicant is approved after the appeals process, the average benefit is less than $1,100 a month.

Still, that small amount of income could mean survival to those who can no longer work. And now it’s even harder to get.

According to a story by The Associated Press, five years ago it took less than a year to get a hearing before a judge to appeal a denied claim. Now it takes almost two years and more than a million of our fellow citizens are waiting.

That’s just not right.

Getting disability should be hard. If someone can work they should, even if they must be retrained for another position they can handle with their disability. But when help is genuinely needed, they shouldn’t have to navigate so many hurdles or wait so long to get what they are due under the law.

The Social Security Administration says it’s working on speeding up the system. We can only hope the agency works harder. Because some folks just can’t wait.