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Long wait for Social Security disability benefits may get worse in Syracuse

  January 18, 2019 | By James T. Mulder, Syracuse.com

Syracusans waiting up to two years to collect Social Security disability insurance benefits may have to wait even longer now that the federal government has added another step to the appeals process.

The new step which took effect in New York Jan. 1 requires people appealing disability application denials to request a second review, called reconsideration. If applicants are turned down again during the reconsideration review they can then request a hearing before an administrative law judge.

Prior to Jan. 1 New Yorkers could request a hearing immediately after the initial denial.

The wait for a hearing in Syracuse is 19 months, one of the longest in the nation.

A recent Syracuse.com story revealed more than 7,000 people in Syracuse are waiting for hearings to decide if they qualify for Social Security disability benefits. After a hearing it can take up to another six months before a decision is issued. That means injured people often struggle to make ends meet or end up homeless as they spend two years awaiting benefits for which they may be entitled.

Ultimately, fewer than four in 10 applicants are awarded benefits from a system they’ve paid into during their working lives.

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