The backlog of applications for disability benefits is so big the Social Security Administration has a special code—DXDI—for appeals dismissed because the applicant died waiting. Since 2005, the agency has made 15,043 DXDI designations.
One person who died waiting was Dexter E. Penny of District Heights, Md., who applied for disability benefits in February 2009 after being diagnosed with colon cancer. His initial application was denied. Then his first appeal was denied on the grounds that he didn’t provide enough medical records.