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Free consultations. Se Habla Español

What we can learn from the case of Barbara Sales

Government administrations come and go, effecting different legal agendas and priorities. But the fact remains that anyone who has had a job and pays taxes has paid into Social Security possibly since their first job as a teenager. Nonetheless, this blog has made it clear how difficult it is for claimants to receive benefits they deserve.

This was once again brought into the national spotlight when a story about Kansas City-based single mother and college-educated working professional Barbara Sales was picked up by national news organizations in late March. Sales has tumors and cysts that have blinded her left eye and lodged themselves in her brain, causing memory loss and seizures. Sales lost her job because of her health problems, but she hasn’t been granted social security benefits. Unfortunately matters are getting worse for Sales because cancerous cells have recently been found in her kidney and she now has problems walking because of fluid on her ankles.

Highlighting the understaffing and backlog of work at the Social Security Administration, the story of Sales is one recent example of the difficulties that millions are having in getting their social security benefits.

There is a general feeling among some in society that there are malingers out there who are bilking the system so they don’t have to get a job. But the fact remains that the social security department is unable to keep up with demand with little help on the horizon because of a federal government hiring freeze.

While this issue is extremely complex and each individual’s situation is different, here are some numbers to consider:

  • The annual number of applications for disability has gone from 1.7 million in 2002 to 2.3 million in 2016.
  • Three of every four initial claims are denied.
  • The number of first time unprocessed claims in backlog stood at 560,000 at the beginning of the fiscal year in October 2016.
  • The amount of cases being reconsidered by an administrative law judges has expanded from 700,000 in 2010 to more than 1.1 million in June 2016.
  • Waiting time for a hearing before a judge is averaging 530 days. Even for those who persist, the chance of being approved is just 44 percent nationally.
  • 8000 people died in 2016 while waiting for a disability hearing. This equates to nearly one person an hour.

After applying several times for disability, Sales goes to court again in late April with a new attorney. Winning could mean getting a check that would cover payments going back to the first time she applied in 2012.

If you are applying for Security Benefits, it’s often best to speak with an attorney who can work with you on your first or subsequent application and represent you before a judge. Success can mean the difference between losing your house and living with a sense of dignity because of financial security. Contact an attorney today to speak about the details of your case.

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