Every day, we take calls from clients who are waiting for a hearing date. When we tell them the wait times between “filing the Request for Hearing” and “when we think they will be scheduled”, we get any number of reactions, such as, “You have got to be kidding!” or “I just don’t understand.”
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may already have seen an earlier post comparing waiting for a hearing to waiting in line at your local deli counter.
Due process is important
Due process is an important part of our judicial system. A Request for Hearing is an appeal of an earlier State Disability Determination Services decision and very important to the whole Social Security disability decision-making process. However, the backlog just continues to grow.
According to the Office of the Inspector General of the SSA, “SSA has experienced a growing hearing backlog and increasing case-processing times in recent years, causing the public to wait longer for decisions. SSA’s pending hearing backlog grew from about 694,000 cases at the end of June 2010 to approximately one million at the end of June 2015. The average processing time on hearings has also increased from 415 days in June 2010 to 498 days in June 2015.”
Why is the backlog growing?
The SSA is well aware of the backlog and has been attempting to reduce it since 2007. There have been 38 hearing backlog initiatives, but they seem to be fighting a losing battle. An OIG report has identified four factors contributing to this lack of progress:
- Increase in number of requests for hearings
- Decrease in ALJ productivity
- Decrease in senior attorney adjudicator decisions
- Decrease in the number of available ALJs
At Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill Co., L.P.A., we understand the frustration of waiting so long for a Social Security hearing. We can’t make the time any less, but we will attempt to help you through the process.