AUSTIN (KXAN) — New applicants for disability benefits are having to wait upwards of seven months for their claims to be processed, according to Social Security Benefit data.

And that’s only getting worse, though fewer people have applied for disability benefits in the last three years, according to a USA Facts report. USA facts is a non-partisan nonprofit that compiles data. It interpreted recent Social Security data released January 2023.

“I have to strap them on like that,” Diedres Cortes, a disabled woman said.

Putting on leg braces is a part of her daily routine.

“I’m very unsteady and weak,” Cortes said.

She said she’s partially paralyzed.

“Some days are better than others,” Cortes said.

She tried to apply for long-term disability nearly three years ago, and is still waiting to see whether she’ll get benefits. 

“They denied me the first time after about eight months,” Cortes said.

According to the latest social security data released earlier this month, for the past few years delays have been getting worse for disability applicants.

The data also shows Texas has seen 142 percent increase in backlog. And most who apply never get their benefit applications approved. Nationally, 2 out of 3 applicants are denied.

A Social Security Administration spokesperson from the Texas region said in a statement:

“We are analyzing factors that are contributing to the backlog.  It is a combination of complex issues.  Some factors driving the backlog include difficulty hiring—as experienced in the larger labor market– historically high attrition in the DDSs – about 20 percent for the last two years for disability examiners— which we are assessing for drivers, increasing medical evidence that must be reviewed, and shortages of medical experts to conduct consultative exams and review cases.”

Cortes is hoping for some relief sooner rather than later.

“There’s a lot of people that die before they get their disability,” Cortes said. “I would have died…I got my son.”

According to Social Security Data, nationally, on average, 8,000 applicants end up filing for bankruptcy, and 10,000 die waiting for disability application decisions each year.