SSDI wait times in Chattanooga among the longest in the nation

Chattanooga suffers from one of the longest Social Security wait times in the country, at 19 months.

Legitimate Social Security claims often get denied during their initial hearings, meaning that applicants often have to file appeals to ensure an administrative law judge gives their case another look. Because millions of people depend on SSDI benefits, losing those benefits and having to wait for an appeal hearing can be an arduous and emotionally fraught experience. Sadly, having to wait years for an appeal is not unheard of, especially in Chattanooga, which, as News Cannel 9 reports, has one of the longest SSDI wait times in the country. Below is a look at why wait times are so bad and what applicants can do to expedite the process.

A 19-month wait

SSDI applicants in Chattanooga face a 19-month delay in getting their claims, denials and appeals processed. That delay is just a few months shy of the wait applicants in Miami face, which has the longest Social Security wait times in the country, at 22 months, according to U.S. News & World Report. Nationally, the average wait time for an SSDI hearing is one year and four months.

Such lengthy delays can be horrendous for those who depend on their Social Security benefits in order to get by. In the worst cases, applicants waiting for an appeal hearing have been driven into homelessness or have been unable to afford the medication they need. With currently a one-million application backlog nationwide, the problem is not one that is going to go away anytime soon.

Why appealing is worth it

Given the long wait times, many people may assume that it is not worth appealing a denied SSDI claim. However, the truth is that although wait times can be incredibly frustrating, in the long run appealing is often worth it. In fact, about half of all applicants are eventually approved for benefits, and many of those applicants include millions who were initially denied benefits only to have that denial overturned by an administrative law judge.

However, the long delays should serve as a reminder of why it is so important to do everything possible to maximize the chances of an application being approved the first time around. Having the necessary paperwork in order and being prepared to answer the questions a judge is likely to ask can have a huge impact on the outcome of a hearing.

Getting legal help

Because Social Security hearings require preparation and knowledge of the application process, it makes sense to reach out to a Social Security claims attorney for help. An attorney who has experience with the claims process will be in the best position to help applicants prepare for the appeals process and maximize their chances that their claim will ultimately be approved.