The Washington Post‘s latest article on Social Security disability, “597 days. And still waiting.” highlights the horrific cost of increasing wait times. Ten thousand people died in the last year alone while waiting for a judge to rule on their disability case.

Joe Stewart, 55, has been waiting to get a hearing for disability benefits for 597 days. Because he worked as a vinyl siding installer and sustained repetitive injuries, Stewart is unable to walk without crutches and is taking five different medications to maintain his physical and mental health.

Despite suffering from nerve pain, muscle spasms, depression, and anxiety, Stewart’s initial application was denied. He has appealed the rejection twice over two years and is still waiting for a verdict—and he’s not alone. According to The Washington Post’sdata from 2017, there are over 1.1 million disability claimants currently waiting for their hearing.

With these massive backlogs come lengthy wait times for disability claimants. The national average wait time increased from 353 days in 2012 to 596 in 2017, and it is continuing to rise.

Not only is waiting for a hearing painful, it can be deadly. Eighteen thousand, seven hundred and one people passed away in last 24 months while waiting for a judge’s decision.

We cannot stand by and watch Americans die waiting for desperately needed benefits – benefits they have paid into all of their working lives; it is essential that we protect Social Security disability and the rights of America’s most vulnerable. In the face of hostile attacks from government leaders and lawmakers, we need everyone’s help to ensure that the fund is given the resources it needs to function.

Help us protect Social Security by contacting your representatives and telling them to stand up for your rights. Find your elected officials’ contact information here (enter your zip code and click “Submit” for a full list including phone and web contacts).

Read The Washington Post’s full article here.

Read additional coverage on this important topic here.


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