CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Thousands of people nationwide seeking disability assistance are waiting months, or even years, for Social Security to hear their cases.
The Charlotte review office has the biggest backlog of all the 170 offices across the nation.
The latest numbers show that Charlotte has 14,456 pending cases. People wait an average of 622 days for their appeals to be heard, almost 100 days more than the national average.
Randy van Hoosan's wife has multiple sclerosis and said that four years ago she realized she couldn't work anymore.
When she applied for disability, she was denied. He said she appealed in October 2014, but almost two years later she's still waiting for her appeal to be heard.
The couple filed bankruptcy in December. They said they lost their house, a car and "just live day to day."
"I think it's just government bureaucracy. They know they can take their time, and that's what they do," van Hoosan said. "There's no sense. They expect us to pay our taxes and everything on time. We should be able to expect the same from them."
They contacted U.S. Sen. Richard Burr's office and got a letter back last month, saying they should expect to wait another 18 to 24 months.
"You run the gamut of emotions," van Hoosan said.
Social Security blames several factors, including facility issues, staff shortages and high caseloads.
When Action 9 investigator Jason Stoogenke asked how the Charlotte office plans to reduce wait times, a representative said they are adding a judge, conducting more video hearings, working on the facility and transferring cases to other offices.
A Social Security representative said, "Nationally, Social Security has a multi-year plan to address the hearings pending workload called the Compassionate and Responsive Service (CARES) plan. The CARES plan recognizes that we can only address wait times through a comprehensive and multi-layered approach that includes strategies and tactical initiatives in a variety of areas such as business process improvements, information technology innovations and investments in staffing and facilities."
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