Turned Down for Federal Disability Payments, Thousands Die Waiting on Appeals

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From USA TODAY: “It isn’t easy to be patient when you can’t work and you’re in pain, as Christine Morgan knows all too well.

Her chronic pain comes from fibromyalgia. Morgan, 60, also has spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spaces within the spine that pinches the nerves, most often in the lower back and neck. To top it off, she is diabetic, has kidney disease, high blood pressure and depression.

Yet Morgan has been turned down for Social Security Disability Insurance –  twice. ‘They sent me a letter that said I wasn’t disabled,’ she said.

Morgan appealed her most recent denial in August 2017. Her appeal wasn’t heard until more than a year later, on Nov. 7, and she still hasn’t received a ruling. She is among more than 800,000 Americans waiting for their appeals to be decided. Each year thousands die waiting for an answer.

In fiscal year 2016, 8,699 Americans died on the disability insurance waiting list. That number rose to 10,002 in 2017.

About 8.8 million Americans depend on Social Security Disability Insurance, a safety net that helps families who have worked a certain amount and paid Social Security taxes.

‘It is totally unacceptable for 10,000 people to lose their lives waiting for insurance they paid into,’ said U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-Conn.

‘If that rate continues, it could be close to 11,000 people this year. It is an unending nightmare is what it comes down to,’ said Mary Dale Walters, senior vice president of Allsup, a Belleville, Illinois-based company that helps applicants apply for Social Security Disability Insurance and return to work if they are medically able.

‘If I knew my life was ebbing away, the absolute last place I’d want to spend it is on the Social Security disability waiting list,’ she said.

According to the Social Security Administration, the average wait for an appeal to be heard and decided is 540 days across the country.”

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