Hundreds of thousands of people who have applied for Social Security Disability benefits are still waiting for a hearing. In fact, the number may be more than 1 million waiting.
Recent data from the Social Security Administration (SSA) shows that it often takes more than two years from the date a request is filed for a disability hearing to be scheduled. This is too long – but there may be help on the way!
In December 2016 Congress passed a resolution to extend federal administrative funding through August 2017. As part of the resolution, roughly $150 million is designated toward the SSA hearing backlog problem.
What can this money be used for? Many things. For example the SSA may use the additional funding to:
- Hire new administrative law judges so that more claims can be heard. Preferably the SSA hires ALJs with experience in Social Security Disability law so that the time needed to train the ALJ is much shorter. It does claimants no good if new hires are unable to evaluate and decide claims properly.
- Hire more support staff, specifically decision writers, so that once an ALJ makes a decision it is put in writing quicker and sent to the claimant, who can decide whether to accept the decision or appeal if it is unfavorable.
- Hire additional attorney-advisors who can hold prehearing conferences and make favorable decisions without the need for a hearing. We’ve had limited success with this, so the attorney-advisors would need to be given authority to negotiate favorable decisions.
Corey Pollard is a Social Security Disability attorney who provides legal representation to disabled adults and children in Richmond, Newport News, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach. Visit cpollardlaw.com for more information.