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The frustrating reality of Social Security Disability waits

As anyone who has visited St. Paul's Social Security office knows, short-staffing plagues the federal agency. Retired people wait locally and at offices across the nation for help with their benefits. Those applying for Social Security Disability are enduring prolonged waits for decisions that can stretch up to two years, according to recent reports.

The Washington Post cites the case of an Army veteran who was medically retired from the military at 54 because of depression and PTSD. He would seem to be an easy call for Social Security to make, but when he applied, he was turned down. His appeal was also turned down. He then went to federal court, which sent his case back to the administrative law judge at Social Security. It has been six years since he submitted his initial claim and the disabled veteran is still waiting to learn if he will get benefits.

Unfortunately, stories of long waits, crushing financial hardship and mounting stress and frustration are all too common.

The agency says it is dealing with record numbers of disability claims, "due primarily to the aging of the baby boomers as they entered their disability-prone years," a spokesperson said.

The average wait to learn of a decision in an appeal hearing has actually been reduced -- to 600 days.

With the long wait periods, the importance of the appeals process is magnified. For many claimants, the decision has a profound impact on their ability to keep a roof over their head and food on the table.

You can speak with an attorney who understands the SSDI process; one who helps gather vital medical documentation and who knows how to present it effectively in an appeals hearing.

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