Lengths of Time to Get a Hearing in Social Security Disability Cases Revealed

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The average lengths of time in 2005 for Social Security disability claimants to get a hearing after a hearing is requested, has been received through the Freedom of Information Act. The times are for each and every hearing office in the United States and Puerto Rico. Long delays in processing cases is the number one complaint leveled by patient-claimants against the Social Security Administration.

In 2005, the average length of time it took to get a hearing after a request for a hearing was 485 days (16 months) from the date one asked for a hearing. SSA’s goal in that year was 250 days (8 months). Note that SSA’s goal numbers on the linked page below include the time it took to get a decision out. The numbers received in response to the FOIA request are from the request date for a hearing to the date one gets a hearing.

Jo Anne Barnhart, commissioner of the Social Security Administration, has vowed to speed up disability determinations with use of electronic technology. She claims that her methodology will improve the accuracy speed, and fairness of disability decisions.

In 2005, virtually none of the 141 hearing offices met the Administration’s goal of 250 days from the time one asks for a hearing to the time one gets a hearing.

Two offices – Colorado Springs and McAlester, OK --were able to come closest to the 250 day goal, with 9 months.

Honolulu, HI Kingsport, TN, Memphis, TN, and Stockton, CA were able to process their claims in 10 months. 11 month processing was accomplished by Buffalo, NY, Denver, CO, Fort Smith, AR, Middlesboro, KY, Morgantown, WV, and Syracuse, NY, and Shreveport, LA.

Processing took a year for Albany, NY, Alexandria, NY, Charleston, SC, Dallas, TX, Las Vegas, NV, Los Angeles, (Downtown), Los Angeles (West), Louisville, KY, Manchester, NH, New Haven, CT, Newark, NJ, Oakland, CA, Omaha, NE, Orland Park, IL, Philadelphia, PA, Portland, ME, Roanoke, VA, Sacramento, CA, San Bernadino, CA, San Diego, CA, Santa Barbara, CA, Tucson, CA, and Voorhees, NJ.

The greatest length of processing time was 2 years, 2 months, for Miami, FL.

It took 22 months for Atlanta, GA, Bronx, NY, Chamblee, GA, Cleveland, OH, Flint, MI, Oakbrook, IL, and Oak Park, MI.

The lengths of time for every Hearing Office can be found at: http://www.socialsecuritydisablty.com/claimprocessingtimes.htm

The SSA does not track the length of time it takes to get through the Reconsideration level. A test has been going on for 5 years in the states of AL, AK, CA, LA (Los Angeles West and North, CO, MI, MO, NH, NY (Brooklyn and Albany) and PA. These states have eliminated the Reconsideration step to see if case processing can be speeded up by skipping this level.

The average length of time it’s taking to get a hearing from the request date for the 24 hearing offices in the Reconsideration skip states is 14 months -- 2 months shorter than the average for all 141 Offices Of Hearings & Appeals. The lengths of time among this group run from 9 months for Colorado Springs, CO’ to 22 months for the Flint, MI OHAs.

The Social Security Administration is sensitive to 4 conditions which should put a case closer to the front of the line. They are:

1) The patient is terminally ill;

2) The patient is without, or is unable to obtain food, medicine or shelter;

3) There is an indication that the patient is homicidal or suicidal;

4) The case has been delayed an inordinate amount of time, longer than the average processing time.

The patient-claimant should address his or her circumstances to the Chief Administrative Law Judge.

After sending, a follow-up call should be made to find out whether the change of status has been made.

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Frederick Johnson