About 7 million Americans collect disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. Another 2.5 million people apply each year, leaving hundreds of thousands stuck in a backlog for approval.
Today, a lot of people with hard-to-prove illnesses apply for disability benefits. They have Lupus or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Social Security sees them as borderline cases. So, they're often denied.
But once applicants get a chance to appeal to a judge, two thirds of them win. If they lose, they can appeal again. That swells the backlog even more.
Judge Robert Habermann hears disability cases in Roanoke, Va., and is an officer in the judge's union. He says the Social Security Administration is pressuring judges to just ram through positive decisions.