It’s no secret that the wait time from when you apply for Social Security benefits is outrageously long. See my blog post here regarding estimated wait times for each level of the appeal process in Sacramento.
While most applications are processed within three to four months, it’s not unheard of for an application to take six months or longer. And this is if you have all your ducks in a row. There can be significant delays to your case, or your case may even be closed without a decision being made if you fail to return completed forms to Social Security or you do and those forms are lost.
Maybe you are like some people who went off of work, have exhausted your short-term disability (State Disability Insurance) and are still waiting for approval of your Social Security Disability benefits. If you’ve planned well, or just been plain lucky, you have a support nest to tide you over until your benefits come through. Or maybe you have supportive family members and friends who can lend you money to pay your bills or invite you to move in with them. Not everyone has a nest egg or friends and family to borrow from.
RTV6 ABC News recently profiled the story of an Indianapolis man, Richard Frizzle, who was forced to turn to panhandling to get by while he waits on his application for Social Security Disability benefits. Mr. Frizzle suffered a heart attack in April 2017 and applied for benefits in August 2017. As of June 2018, he was still waiting for his application to be processed.
The current average wait time for a Social Security Disability hearing is around 560 days, nationally, Here in Sacramento, the average time from an application to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (if your application is denied) is about two years. It doesn’t look promising that there will be a significant reduction in wait times anytime soon. It’s a shame that people like Mr. Frizzle, will need to continue to resort to panhandling to make ends meet while waiting for due process.
So how do claimants get by in the meantime? After exhausting any state disability insurance benefits and personal resources, you may qualify for General Assistance and Food Stamps from your County. While not much, I’ve seen these benefits provide much needed assistance to my low-income clients waiting for their hearing. If you are approved for Social Security Disability/Supplemental Security Income, the county will be paid back for the General Assistance benefits, out of your back-payment award.