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Increasing number of Americans waiting for SSDI

Millions of Americans, including many in Georgia, are waiting for disability benefits, and one man among them has hit rock bottom.

The former carpenter, age 54, has been waiting for a year and a half since applying for benefits. His first application for Social Security disability benefits was denied. In the meantime, multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer, is slowly making his body deteriorate.

He thought that qualifying for SSDI would be easy after a second bout with cancer caused him to lose his job, his house and his savings. However, after being rejected, he has enlisted the help of a national advocacy firm.

While fighting his cancer, the man now lives in a camper on property behind his former home, which was foreclosed upon. He relies on money from family members to pay for the gas for his generator. As a man who has worked all his life, he finds his current situation discouraging but believes it can only get better.

He currently receives free chemotherapy treatments, but he can't afford the most effective option: stem cell transplant. He hopes that he will get approved and receive retroactive payments. With the lump sum, he could afford the treatment that could extend his life.

Across the country, those seeking SSDI benefits are waiting longer for their applications to be processed. Aging baby boomers and economic troubles have been credited with the increase in applicants.

Many do not realize when they are applying for SSDI that their disability should last at least a year and be so severe that they cannot work. Those who are rejected and decide to appeal can expect to wait more than one year.

Source: The St. Augustine Record, "Social Security disability harder to get as the Baby Boomer bubble swells number of applications," Jennifer Edwards, Nov. 13, 2011

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