Disability Hearing Backlog is Improving

Over the last few years, the time for the ODAR (Office of Disability Adjudication and Review) Indianapolis Office to process requests for hearings has been around 2 years. That means that from the time a disabled worker files a request for hearing until the time a decision was made and mailed, it would take about 2 years. This time calculation does not take into account the the many months it took to wait for the denials at the initial and reconsideration stage.

The Social Security Administration has taken steps to improve the disability claims backlog by hiring additional administrative law judges and more support staff. As part of its effort to reduce the wait time, SSA has also introduced video hearing equipment. This equipment allows administrative law judges from around the county at less busy ODAR offices to step in and hear disability cases without the time consuming task of traveling to Indianapolis.

Finally, SSA has expanded the role of senior attorneys by allowing them to screen and allow fully favorable cases “on the record” without then need for a hearing.

As a result of these efforts, the Indianapolis Hearings Office has reduced its pending case level from over 19,000 cases at the end of 2008 to 15,863 cases at the end of 2009. Significantly the average processing time was deceased from 787 days in 2008 to 603 days by the end of 2009.

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