The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently released an updated plan to reduce the hearing backlog for people waiting for hearings on their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims. The updated plan is part of the Compassionate and Responsive Services (CARES) initiative of the SSA. The original CARES plan set a goal of 1,128,576 dispositions within the last eighteen months, but the reality is that they fell short by over 100,000 claims. It is interesting that the SSA failed to meet its goals despite receiving 105,000 fewer requests for hearings than expected over the last eighteen months. The SSA attributes its failure to meet goals and reduce backlogs due to shortage of hearing level support staff, including administrative law judges and decision writers.
A major concern for my clients applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits is the time it takes to get their case decided once they reach the hearing level. I periodically try to provide an update on the processing times and approval rates for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims for some hearing offices (ODAR) in Tennessee and Eastern Kentucky. Please remember that these statistics are only for claims pending at the hearing level or Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. The claims at a hearing office have already been through the Application and Reconsideration steps (typically 6-12 months of waiting already).
As noted in the past, Social Security Disability and SSI claimants continue to see a worsening trend in terms of hearing office processing or wait times and percentage of claims being approved at the hearing level. This trend has steadily continued over the last few years and has worsened since just July of 2014.