When it comes to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims, there is nothing more frustrating than the length of time claims are at the hearing office before hearings are held. Just last week, I posted an update on the average processing times and approval rates for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cases at the hearing level. Recently, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced the creation of a "National Adjudication Tean" (NAT) as a tactic to reduce the hearing level backlog. In the past, hearing offices have utilized senior attorneys to review claims likely to be found favorable at a hearing and then process on-the-record (OTR) decisions. These were usually claims with older claimants (55 and over) who's claim could be granted based on an application of a grid rule.
The new NAT program looks to be much more limited. This team of senior attorneys will handle cases on a national basis as selected by the national ODAR office. These attorneys are the only attorneys who may be designated as Decision Makers for signing fully favorable decisions. NAT attorneys will select and assign cases for screening by other NAT attorneys. Cases will be assigned for screening only if one of the following criteria are met:
•· New and material evidence is submitted;
•· There is an indication that additional evidence is available;
•· There is a change in the law and regulations; or
•· There is an error in the file or some other indication that a wholly favorable decision could be issued.
I am glad to hear that the backlogs are starting to come to the attention of the SSA and Congress, but I am skeptical that this limited program will make much of dent in the wait times.
If you need more information about a Social Security Disability/SSI, personal injury, EEOICPA, long or short-term disability, VA disability, Railroad Retirement Board disability, or a workers compensation matter, please contact the Law Offices of Tony Farmer and John Dreiser for a free case evaluation. We can be reached at (865) 584-1211 or (800) 806-4611 or through our website. Our office handles claims throughout Tennessee.