The waiting period is the time from when the Office of Adjudication and Review receives the Request for a Hearing before an Administration Law Judge (ALJ) to the time that the hearing takes place. The quickest average waiting time was 272 days. The longest average waiting period for an Office of Adjudication and Review was 622 days.
Of the Offices of Adjudication and Review that ACA appears before, the Elkins Park, PA Hearing Office had the smallest waiting period of 335 days. Elkins Park was ranked 16th amongst the 143 Hearing Offices in the United States. Next on the list of offices that we appear before was Charleston, WV, which was ranked 31st, with an average waiting period of 363 days for a hearing. Wilkes-Barre, PA was ranked 48th with an average waiting period of 397 days. Finally, the White Plains, NY hearing office was ranked 63rd with an average waiting period of 430 days.
These statistics are rather troubling because they show that the average waiting time for someone filing for disability benefits is, in most cases, over a year from the date that the appeal is submitted. This waiting period does not include the time already invested before Social Security initially denied the claim. Thus, the average waiting period before a disability claim is approved is well over a year.
The Social Security Administration has made several attempts to reduce the backlog and waiting period for disability claims. Most important of these was that Social Security hired many Attorney Advisors to review cases before the claim goes before an Administrative Law Judge. If the case warrants it, the Attorney Advisor may approve the claim without the need for a hearing. This, in turn, cuts the waiting period for the applicant and diminishes the number of cases before the Administrative Law Judges; thus, reducing the backlog.
Additionally, President Obama recently signed the 2010 national budget, which contained a 10% increase to the Social Security Administration’s administrative budget. This increase should enable the Social Security Administration to hire more Administrative Law Judges and Attorney Advisors to review the cases currently pending. Hopefully, these efforts will reduce the waiting period and next year’s statistics may show more waiting periods below 365 days.