Monday, November 15, 2010

ALERT: Congressional Budget Office (COB) 2010 Issue Brief on Disability Insurances (SSDI & SSI)

While listening to TV pundits interview incoming Congressional members, I heard some say that the Social Security Disability Insurance programs - SSDI and SSI - need to be reviewed, 'cause with the # of folks on those programs there must be lots of fraud and/or it must be too easy to get approval! OMG(oodness) - WHAT???

Well, of course this just brought my ire up, so I did some research to come up with some facts.

I found this particular CBO - Congressional Budget Office - Report on Social Security Disability Insurance - SSDI & SSI - their Trends and Fiscal Implications - for the future. I've copied for you the intro to that report. It is 8 pages long, and I need to carefully read it and digest it before I can properly advise all of us on what to do. HOWEVER, based on just this intro, I CAN offer the following advice/recommendations:

1) IF YOU HAVE NOT YET APPLIED, OR ARE IN THE PROCESS - email me and get my PROVEN process for documenting and getting corroboration about your symptom impairments on your ADL's: Activities of Daily Living (work and home). In this way you should be able to comply with any potential future process changes.

2) If YOU ARE ALREADY ON SSDI &/OR SSI - STILL email me for the processes. Do the documentation and corroboration work NOW. They you should be better prepared to comply SUCCESSFULLY with whatever changes might come along.

I'm afraid that absent the careful documentation and corroboration on your part AHEAD of time, you might be in trouble long term.

For example: One recommendation offered is to get folks on Disability Insurance BACK TO WORK. If they - meaning Social Security - change the rules in this manner, then the recommended documentation can GREATLY assist you in showing how you cannot perform "WORK OF ANY KIND" - WHATEVER your past work history was!

So, read the following. If you want a copy of the whole paper EMAIL ME - DO NOT SEND ME A PM; I CAN ONLY GET IT TO YOU AS AN EMAIL ATTACHMENT.

THEN, email me and get started on your documentation and corroboration. We cannot fight what may come to pass; but we can be READY to successfully qualify for whatever "rules" are concocted.

Social Security Disability Insurance: Participation Trends and Their Fiscal Implications
July 22, 2010

The Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) program pays cash benefits to nonelderly adults (those younger than age 66) who are judged to be unable to perform “substantial” work because of a disability but who have worked in the past; the program also pays benefits to some of those adults’ dependents. In 2009, the Disability Insurance program paid benefits to almost 8 million disabled beneficiaries and about 2 million of those beneficiaries’ spouses and children.

Between 1970 and 2009, the number of people receiving DI benefits more than tripled, from 2.7 million to 9.7 million (unless otherwise specified, all years are calendar years). That jump, which significantly outpaced the increase in the working-age population during that period, is attributable to several changes—in characteristics of that population, in federal policy, and in opportunities for employment. In addition, during those years, the average inflation-adjusted cost per person receiving DI benefits rose from about $6,900 to about $12,800 (in 2010 dollars). As a result, inflation-adjusted expenditures for the DI program, including administrative costs, increased nearly sevenfold between 1970 and 2009, climbing from $18 billion to $124 billion (in 2010 dollars). Most DI beneficiaries, after a two-year waiting period, are also eligible for Medicare; the cost of those benefits in fiscal year 2009 totaled about $70 billion.

Under current law, the DI program is not financially sustainable. Its expenditures are drawn from the Disability Insurance Trust Fund, which is financed primarily through a payroll tax of 1.8 percent; the fund had a balance of $204 billion at the end of 2009. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that by 2015, the number of people receiving DI benefits will increase to 11.4 million and total expenditures will climb to $147 billion (in 2010 dollars; see Figure 1). However, tax receipts credited to the DI trust fund will be about 20 percent less than those expenditures, and three years later, in 2018, the trust fund will be exhausted, according to CBO’s estimates. Without legislative action to reduce the DI program’s outlays, increase its dedicated federal revenues, or transfer other federal funds to it, the Social Security Administration will not have the legal authority to pay full DI benefits beyond that point.

A number of changes could be implemented to address the trust fund’s projected exhaustion. Some would increase revenues dedicated to the program; others would reduce outlays. One approach to reducing expenditures on DI benefits would be to establish policies that would make work a more viable option for people with disabilities. However, little evidence is available on the effectiveness of such policies, and their costs might more than offset any savings from reductions in DI benefits.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

SSA 's length of time for Denied SSDI claimants to wait for a Hearing is 15 months now; they are PROUD?

The Social Security Administration is PROUD of the following statement: "The average processing time for hearing decisions has decreased to 442 days, down from a high of 514 days at the end of fiscal year (FY) 2008."

Seriously - PROUD that it takes 15 MONTHS to wait for a Disability claim HEARING? the DisabilityKey process brings (followed AND qualified) APPROVAL averages 3 months!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Patient Self-Advocacy - WHAT is it; HOW to do it?

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND self-advocacy for EVERYONE, but especially for people with disabilities!! Stanford Univ. in the US came up with a program entitled: Chronic Disease Self-Management - see this link: for more information.

Canada, Australia, and the UK have a very similar program called "Expert Patient"; see this link: or this site:

Here is the BEST website that I've found that explains the concept in general and has TONS of info; from New Zealand:

Finally, I've personally written about this concept in my own blogs on my website: - the archived blog way back in 2005 or so. Here's a link to that archived Blog; scroll down about 1/3 of the way to the AUGUST 16, 2005 entry:

I've taken the Stanford course and am a Certified Chronic Disease Self-Manager Trainer. With this knowledge, I've created a FREE ebooklet about how best to become a Self-Advocate. For a copy, please email me:

Finally, I find that most people have problems getting their doctors to actually LISTEN to them - let alone partner with them. It's more prevalent in the US and is called "Doctor (or illness)-Centered" medicine, versus PATIENT-CENTERED medicine. Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand are MILES ahead of the US when it comes to patient-centered medicine.

Here's a current study:

Monday, September 6, 2010

Why I'm learning about the UK Welfare and Disability systems

GREETINGS! As an Expert on the US Social Security (Welfare & Disability Insurance) systems, I'm now learning about what's going on in the UK for 2 reasons: 1) to be better prepared to deal with the upcoming US "Natn'l" Health Care System; and 2) to provide my disability insurance success process - ALL INFO PROVIDED FOR FREE - to you in the UK!

As a way to learn about me, please see my facebook page: Disabilitykey

I've been doing this Advocacy for almost a decade, and have reached over 4,000 folks WORLDWIDE.

I have both PERSONAL expertise with the system - on disability for Multiple Sclerosis and Polyneuropathy (getting approval the 1st time around in under 30 days when the "normal" timeframe is 3 1/2 years); and PROFESSIONAL expertise - a Human Resources Auditor and Executive for 30+ years.

Please check out my website: AND I'm new to this facebook organization:!/group.php?gid=100236785459

Please email me: to get forms, examples, and process instructions on how to get disability insurance for which you qualify. Looking forward to getting to know you and your concerns better!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

OUTSTANDING Health Survey Website:

While researching disease-specific quality of life (QoL) websites, I came across this OUTSTANDING website wherein you can register - all for FREE - take health and QoL questionnaires, get feedback, track progress, and print out analyses for your doctors! Here is the website:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Quality of Life Survey Tools

If you are interested in measuring your own Quality of Life, here is a link to a website that offers 3 links to different surveys. Copy the link and post it into your web browser and it will take you to the website:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

How I CAN do what I do....

Many of you know me as the "Social Security and ANY type of Disability Insurance Guru"! If you have ever wondered how I - with dx's of both Multiple Sclerosis and Polyneuropathy for over 45 years - and, who only has about 2 - 3 cognitive hours available DAILY, can do what I do - I'll share my secret with you.

FIRST of all, what I am accomplishing requires: 1) a strong spiritual focus; 2) a positive outlook on life; and 3) a willingness to achieve a QOL (Quality of Life) that allows me to focus externally on others.

I achieved all of this by being what I call "successfully 2-sided"; I focused on what I CAN'T DO to get the resources (including disability insurances and a "patient-centered" relationship with my doctors); THEN I focus on what I CAN DO to achieve a positive QOL. Next, I focused on my spiritual life. Finally, I figured out what I was good at doing; what my spiritual life was FORCING - lol - allowing - me to do, and I set about doing it. (Note: I joke about the "forcing", but it is really true. I had to loose all of my physical resources that allowed me to think that I could "fix/resolve" anything. After being angry and frustrated for about a decade, I reached the epiphany that allowed me to stop my "pitty party".)

This led me a decade ago into establishing my DisabilityKey initiatives - as a Nationally Recognized Disability Advocate, Educator, and Expert Witness. To find out more about YOUR acquiring either Disability Insurance(s) for which you qualify, and/or how to achieve your OWN patient-centered relationship with your doctors, please email me:

I have my own daily prayer/song that summarizes what and how I can do what I do:

My Abba up above,
Holy Spirit within me;
Both guide this Servant's hands and mind to show
Disabled HOW to go!

THANKS for visiting this Blog entry. Hope that it just might trigger an idea within YOU!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

ALERT: NEW TREND in US Medicine: Putting Patients First!

This new trend is called "Patient-Centered Medical Homes". Now, this just means putting the PATIENT at the center of all things medical. Consider this explanation from the article:

[Patient] care is team-based, preventive and comprehensive, rather than one-on-one, fee-for-service or managed. Record keeping and sharing is seamless and electronic, rather than unwieldy and paper-based. Clinicians from the team are easily accessible in person, on the phone or via the Internet within 24 hours, rather than hidden behind labyrinthine automatic answering services and overbooked clinic schedules.

Here is the link to the NEW YORK TIMES article:

(Note: just copy the url and past it in your browser.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Brain Changes in MS May Spur Depression

If I did the "insert" correctly, you should be able to click on the link below and go directly to the link and read the article. If my cognitive ability failed me, please copy and paste the link into your search bar.

This article - from a fantastic MS research website that I subscribe to - talks about the "Brain Changes" in the brain of the MS patient that may spur depression.

Most of us with MS ALREADY KNOW that we also suffer from depression. Hopefully, this article just might help MS folks better communicate with their doctors.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

WHO should collect an Applicant's chart notes for a Disability Insurance (like SSDI and/or SSI claim?

If you ask the SSA (Social Security Administration) you will probably be told that they can get the medical info for you, as soon as you sign the release form(s).

HOWEVER, the DisabilityKey process HIGHLY recommends that YOU - the APPLICANT - gather up all the chart notes and read them, underlining the parts that refer to your symptom impairments, and WHERE THERE MIGHT BE DISCREPANCIES between what you say in your documentation and the drs' chart notes, you can resolve any differences BEFORE the notes go into SSA.

Here are 3 situations where the applicant did NOT do the chart note gathering, reading and resolving FIRST. They were DISQUALIFIED because of issues that they could have resolved ahead of time if they had only obtained the chart notes ahead of time; read and resolved any discrepancies BEFORE submitting them to the SSA.

1) The dr's admin compiled the files to send to SSA upon request of the SSA Case Worker's request; the office had 2 people with the same last name; the admin sent in the case files for the WRONG PERSON!!

2) The applicant reported she could not drive due to symptom impairments; had lost her license. The dr's latest chart notes sent in at the request of the SSA's Case Worker - without review by the applicant - showed that the applicant could still drive; the applicant was denied benefits because the SSA said they couldn't "trust" her documentation. When the applicant later talked to the dr, the dr apologized; corrected the chart notes to reflect that she HAD INDEED lost her license 3 yrs ago! The dr had written the latest chart notes WITHOUT referring to the applicant's past history!

3) The SSA Case Worker did not want to contact the applicant's multiple drs for chart notes, so denied the applicant disability benefits, saying that there was "insufficient evidence of ADL (Activities of Daily Living) symptom impairment; therefore the applicant could perform SGA (Substantially Gainful Employment". AND REMEMBER - it is YOUR responsibility to PROVE your impairment.

The SSA states the following (get my new FREE ebooklet to learn more):

Under both the Title II (SSDI) and Title XVI (SSI) programs, medical evidence is the cornerstone for the determination of disability. Each person who files a disability claim is responsible for providing medical evidence showing he or she has an impairment(s) and the severity of the impairment(s).

AND, this:

(a) General. In general, you have to prove to us that you are blind or disabled. Therefore, you must bring to our attention everything that shows that you are blind or disabled. This means that you must furnish medical and other evidence that we can use to reach conclusions about your medical impairment(s) and, if material to the determination of whether you are blind or disabled, its effect on your ability to work on a sustained basis. We will consider only impairment(s) you say you have or about which we receive evidence.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

SSA's "Blue Book" Criteria for Autoimmune conditions

GREAT NEWS: The SSA has a Blue Book that lists "common disorders" and the criteria that need to be met to qualify for either SSDI or SSI.

OK - please don't freak out when you see the info I'm copying below. I'm just showing you the YARDSTICK against which an SSA Analyst will measure YOUR situation. AND, that's why you need to get the DisabilityKey Workbook found at the DisabilityKey website: for the process instructions, forms and examples to document your symptom impairments to meet these criteria!! AND, to assist your doctor(s) in supporting you!

Here's the link to this Immune Disorder category: ... .htm#14_10

From that link, here's what is said about "Autoimmune" conditions:

2. Autoimmune disorders (14.00D).Autoimmune disorders are caused by dysfunctional immune responses directed against the body’s own tissues, resulting in chronic, multisystem impairments that differ in clinical manifestations, course, and outcome. They are sometimes referred to as rheumatic diseases, connective tissue disorders, or collagen vascular disorders. Some of the features of autoimmune disorders in adults differ from the features of the same disorders in children.

Here's what the SSA says they need to show that you have an immune system disorder. And REMEMBER - they also state - elsewhere - that it is YOUR responsibility to obtain and provide this information to them in support of your case.

Under both the Title II(SSDI) and Title XVI (SSI) programs, medical evidence is the cornerstone for the determination of disability. Each person who files a disability claim is responsible for providing medical evidence showing he or she has an impairment(s) and the severity of the impairment(s)

Here now are the "immune disorder (autoimmune) criteria.

B. What information do we need to show that you have an immune system disorder? Generally, we need your medical history, a report(s) of a physical examination, a report(s) of laboratory findings, and in some instances, appropriate medically acceptable imaging or tissue biopsy reports to show that you have an immune system disorder. Therefore, we will make every reasonable effort to obtain your medical history, medical findings, and results of laboratory tests. We explain the information we need in more detail in the sections below.

C. Definitions

1. Appropriate medically acceptable imaging includes, but is not limited to, angiography, x-ray imaging, computerized axial tomography (CAT scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), with or without contrast material, myelography, and radionuclear bone scans. “Appropriate” means that the technique used is the proper one to support the evaluation and diagnosis of the impairment.

2. Constitutional symptoms or signs, as used in these listings, means severe fatigue, fever, malaise, or involuntary weight loss. Severe fatigue means a frequent sense of exhaustion that results in significantly reduced physical activity or mental function. Malaise means frequent feelings of illness, bodily discomfort, or lack of well-being that result in significantly reduced physical activity or mental function.

3. Disseminated means that a condition is spread over a considerable area. The type and extent of the spread will depend on your specific disease.

4. Dysfunction means that one or more of the body regulatory mechanisms are impaired, causing either an excess or deficiency of immunocompetent cells or their products.

5. Extra-articular means “other than the joints”; for example, an organ(s) such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, or skin.

6. Inability to ambulate effectively has the same meaning as in 1.00B2b. (Find the citations for 6-8 at this link: ... -Adult.htm)

7. Inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively has the same meaning as in 1.00B2c.

8. Major peripheral joints has the same meaning as in 1.00F.

9. Persistent means that a sign(s) or symptom(s) has continued over time. The precise meaning will depend on the specific immune system disorder, the usual course of the disorder, and the other circumstances of your clinical course.

10. Recurrent means that a condition that previously responded adequately to an appropriate course of treatment returns after a period of remission or regression. The precise meaning, such as the extent of response or remission and the time periods involved, will depend on the specific disease or condition you have, the body system affected, the usual course of the disorder and its treatment, and the other facts of your particular case.

11. Resistant to treatment means that a condition did not respond adequately to an appropriate course of treatment. Whether a response is adequate or a course of treatment is appropriate will depend on the specific disease or condition you have, the body system affected, the usual course of the disorder and its treatment, and the other facts of your particular case.

12. Severe means medical severity as used by the medical community. The term does not have the same meaning as it does when we use it in connection with a finding at the second step of the sequential evaluation processes in §§404.1520, 416.920, and 416.924.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

ALERT: 2009 Disability Insurance Statistics....

The Council for Disability Awareness (CDA) at this link: ... y_2010.asp released its recent 2010 review of long term disability claims (of all types). While you can read all of the info at this link, I've copied below the SSA info.

"New claim applications submitted to the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program continued to surge in 2009. More workers are applying for SSDI claim payments than at any time in history, with new applications totaling 2.8 million in 2009 - an increase of 21 percent, and by far the most ever. New SSDI claims are projected to continue to rise dramatically in 2010. Over 5 percent of the workforce, or 7.8 million workers, were receiving SSDI at the conclusion of 2009.

At the same time, the approval rate for initial SSDI claims continued to decline. The approval rate fell to 35 percent in 2009, representing a continued steady decline from 52 percent 10 years ago. The CDA Claims Review found that 31 percent of individuals receiving private group long-term disability insurance benefits did not qualify for SSDI assistance and 95 percent of claims were not job-related."

The 31% of individuals receiving private group LTD benefits that did NOT qualify for SSDI assistance is very troubling for 2 reasons:

1) Insurance companies are often TERMINATING a person's LTD if they do NOT subsequently qualify for SSDI.


So, once again, I BEG of you to contact me for the DisabilityKey process BEFORE you start the application process for any type of Disability Insurance.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Statistics supporting the need for Chronic Disease Self-Management

The future of medicine is management of chronic disease.

* In 2000, it was estimated that 125 million Americans had 1 or more chronic medical condition.

* This number is expected to increase to 157 million by 2020.[1]

* Moreover, about 60 million have multiple chronic illnesses, a number that could rise to 81 million by 2020.

Are YOU prepared for Chronic Disease Self-Management? Assessment Tool

Self-Efficacy has been defined as the ability to "self-manage" your own symptoms toward maximizing your quality of life. It assumes that:

1) You HONESTLY know you body and yourself and your symptom impairments and are willing to partner with your health care team to identify, use and maintain whatever "intervention mechanisms" determined for your particular symptom (i.e., medication, exercise, rest, etc.).
2) You are willing to know what you can and cannot do and are willing to seek assistance when necessary.

If you want to determine if you ready for Chronic Disease Self-Management, please consider taking this test from the Stanford Patient Education Research Center on "Chronic Disease Self-Efficacy":

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ask ? of Master MS Neuros; See Archived ?

Ever want to ask a question of Experts about MS? Here is your opportunity!

Now, the site is targeted for clinicians, but I - as an MS person and a Disability Advocate - found lots of info in the Archives section; that link is below.

"If You Could Ask a Question of One of the Top Experts in Multiple Sclerosis, What Would You Ask?

Now you have that chance, with

More information has been published about multiple sclerosis (MS) in the past decade than in the entire history of medical literature. Clinical practices even a few years out of date may not be in the best interest of our MS patients. But it’s nearly impossible to keep up with all the advances, much less apply them in a disease that varies greatly among patients.

That’s why we created This website is a forum for specialists with the latest expertise on MS to share their knowledge with you, the MS clinician. It’s simple: register for the site, enter your question, and our experts will address it directly. Or browse the archived topics on the site."

Link to Archives section:

I particularly liked the info about MS Symptoms!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

FREE Mayo Clinic Family Health Management web link

The Mayo Clinic has a fabulous FREE Family Health Management web link. You can even ask for assistance! I highly recommend using this web link as a way of documenting and managing your health and that of your family.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Expert Patient AKA Chronic Disease Self-Manager

I often get emails from newly diagnosed folks who are overwhelmed with their diagnosis of a "chronic disease". They feel at a loss over how to best interact with their doctors, family and friends.

Research is very clear that becoming an "Expert Patient" as they are called in the UK or a "Chronic Disease Self-Manager" as we call them here in the US is the absolute best way to maximize your effectiveness in "managing" your chronic disease.

The better YOU can articulate your symptoms and IN GREAT SPECIFICITY document how they impair your normal daily living activities, the better you can become an "Expert Patient" and partner with your dr on the best "intervention mechanisms" to improve the quality of your life.

If you email me I can send you a free ebooklet that I recently did that gives you advice about becoming your own Self-Advocate - EP - or, as we call the person here in the US - A "Chronic Disease Self-Manager".

Here's a UK definition of EP that I recently found.

"An observation often made by doctors, nurses and other health professionals who undertake long-term follow-up and care of people with particular chronic diseases like diabetes mellitus, arthritis or epilepsy is 'my patient understands their disease better than I do.' This knowledge and experience held by the patient has for too long been an untapped resource. Research and practical experience in North America and Britain are showing that [b]today's patients with chronic diseases need not be mere recipients of care. They can become key decision-makers in the treatment process[/b]. By ensuring that knowledge of their condition is developed to a point where they are empowered to take some responsibility for its management and work in partnership with their health and social care providers, patients can be given greater control over their lives. Self-management programmes can be specifically designed to reduce the severity of symptoms and improve confidence, resourcefulness and self-efficacy."
Note: bold not part of citation; added for emphasis only.

Here is an Outstanding website resource that has an excellent article about becoming an "Expert Patient".

The key idea to keep in mind is that the more you know what is going on with you the better you can help your health care team come up with ways to increase your quality of life.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Another DisabilityKey process testamonial

Doing an Internet search, I found another unsolicited testimonial about the success of the Disabilitykey process:

"Very long story short, I was approved for SSDI in February 2009. I firmly believe I was successful because I was completely prepared, as were my doctors. I am very thankful for their help, but I am especially thankful for the help and advice of one very special lady. Her name is Carolyn Magura. I was very blessed to find her on the SSDI message boards at She gives EXCELLENT advice there and on her own website DisabilityKey and her blog Disability Key Blog. I very highly recommend you check out those sites if you are preparing to file for SSDI or if you have already been turned down. I truly believe they played a HUGE role in my being prepared which led to me being approved so very quickly!"

You too can access the tools to document your symptom impairments and get corroboration from your doctors. Please email me for assistance.

DisabilityKey process even works for Attorneys!!

In case you wonder just who can be successful using the DisabilityKey process, consider the following testimonial from an Attorney for whom we assisted qualify for Long Term Disability (LTD). Oh - by "cost effective" he is referring to the consulting fees wherein his documentation is critiqued for details and specificity.

"I was a litigation attorney whose diabetes worsened preventing me from performing the duties of my occupation. Carol(yn) and her team guided me through the LTD process and documentation. After only a few month my LTD insurer approved me for benefits based upon documents prepared by Carol(yn) and the reports of my tre...ating doctors. I found Carol(yn)'s methodology sound, understandable and cost effective."

Monday, May 10, 2010

May, 2010 - Social Security Claims currently clogging already overloaded system!

Want to share this current update about the status of Social Security Disability Insurance claims. The key here is that if you or someone you know is about to start - PLEASE EMAIL ME and get the DisabilityKey process to optimize your opportunity to jumpstart your application process.

REMEMBER: Over 4,000+ folks WORLDWIDE already provided the DisabilityKey process. For those who FOLLOW THE PROCESS COMPLETELY with the documentation and corroboration, the success rates are about 90%.

Here is the link for the article. Key components belos.

WASHINGTON – Nearly 2 million people are waiting to find out if they qualify for Social Security disability benefits. It will be a long wait for most, even if they eventually win their cases.

The Social Security system is so overwhelmed by applications for disability benefits that many people are waiting more than two years for their first payment. In Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and other states, the wait can be even longer.

About 3.3 million people are expected to apply for benefits this year. That's 300,000 more than last year and 700,000 more than in 2008.

Nearly two-thirds of those claims will be denied by state agencies overseen by the Social Security Administration.

Applicants file disability claims with the Social Security Administration, which turns them over to state agencies, usually called Disability Determination Services. A doctor must verify that debilitating medical conditions will last at least a year. About 63 percent of initial claims are denied, after an average wait of 111 days.

Applicants in most states can appeal the decision to the same state agency. About 86 percent of those appeals are denied, after an average wait of an additional 104 days.

Applicants can then appeal to an administrative law judge. About 554,000 cases were decided at this level in 2009. The judges approved benefits in 63 percent of the cases, after an average processing time of 491 days.

Including the time it takes to file the appeals at each stage, the entire process takes an average of 777 days, or a little more than two years, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Alaska, which recently opened a hearing office, takes an average 642 days for an administrative law judge to process a claim. Ohio takes 581 days, Michigan takes 564 days and Minnesota takes 560 days