December 10, 2018

Why does this process take so long?

Hearing decision delays and the reasons for them

As you may be aware of, the last few years have witnessed an incredible increase in the number of backlogged. According to the Social Security Administration, this backlog was nothing short of staggering. For instance, as of March of 2007, the pending cases or backlog was nearly 1.5 million applicants waiting to hear a decision in their case. So you know that number in 2010 is considerably higher. This backlog is attributed to 4 things:

  • an ever-growing increase in the number of applicants annually
  • an increase in the number of SSA workers retiring each year
  • government imposed budget limitations imposed on the SSA
  • the inability of the SSA to replace those workers who have retired

Additionally, the SSA released information regarding the total number of applications received during 2009. This information revealed that there were over 2.8 million of these applications that were received during the year.

How the decision making process has been affected

In addition to the information listed in the above section, these delays between the filing of your application and being denied up to the point where you finally get notified of a hearing date has created some negative consequences. The main consequence is that your claim and filing for a hearing and the decision written about it is oftentimes handled by SSA staff members who were not present at your initial filing or hearing.

The downside to this is that even though the ALJ or judge who was present at your hearing may have rendered a decision in your favor, that decision does not take effect until it is put in writing. So the lack of sufficient SSA personnel creates a negative impact where the time frame is concerned. That waiting period could take anywhere from 90 days to 6 months, just so you know.

Another factor is that the ALJ’s or judges who handle disability cases and appeals hearings do not allow (actually refuse) an attorney to draft that favorable decision regarding your case and hearing. This doesn’t make any sense since the administrative burden would be reduced considerably and the process involving the disbursement of payment would be sped up in the process if the attorney could draft that decision. On a closing note, unfortunately we do not see any reasonable solution to these delays happening any time soon, so just be prepared for a number of unnecessary delays.