The new federal hiring freeze may exacerbate a backlog of appeals for Social Security Disability Insurance that has grown so big that an average case takes more than a year to be heard.
“These are people who are desperate,” Judge Marilyn Zahm, president of the Association of Administrative Law Judges union, said. “There may be a hiring freeze on federal employment, but there’s no freeze on people getting older, people getting sicker, people having injuries and accidents, and people needing disability insurance.”
Zahn is among around 1,650 judges tasked with considering claims from Americans whose initial requests for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits have been denied by state agencies.
As of May 2016, the average wait for an appeal to get processed was 526 days, according to the Social Security Administration’s inspector general. A total of 1.1 million people were waiting for a decision on their eligibility for benefits under the sixty year-old program, which provides income support to people who paid into the system and due to disability will be unable for at least a year to work.