Ruppersberger Calls for Action on Disability Claims Backlog
(Timonium, MD) – Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) today was joined by disabled Marylanders in urging the Social Security Administration to address its backlog of claims for disability hearings. The average wait-time for a disability appeal hearing nationally is 404 days. In the Baltimore hearings office, the wait currently stands at 17 months, or 520 days, the third longest in the country.
"Some of these constituents have had to file for bankruptcy, some have lost their home and some have even died before they receive their hearing,” Congressman Ruppersberger said. “We are not casting blame or even asking for benefits – we are simply asking for these residents to get a hearing in a timely manner.”
Social Security’s Baltimore hearing office currently has about 11,500 pending cases. By comparison, the shortest wait in the country stands at six months in Honolulu, Hawaii. Residents in downtown Los Angeles wait an average of 11 months before receiving a hearing.
Several constituents caught in the backlog shared their stories of personal and financial hardship at Monday’s event. Curtis Bay resident Rosalie Pack represented her son, Kenneth, who died in May 2013 of the heart-related condition on which he filed his disability claim. Kenneth Pack was an auto mechanic who developed congestive heart failure and depression once he was no longer able to work, according to his mother. His disability claim was filed in March 2013 and his mother is still awaiting a hearing.
“Not being able to work and support your family takes its toll on a man,” Rosalie Pack said. “And everything he went through, I also went through.”
Congressman Ruppersberger has sent Social Security’s Acting Commissioner, Carolyn Colvin, a letter asking her to develop a plan to address the backlog in the Baltimore hearing office.