We attempt to answer questions and address issues that arise during the course of representing disability claimants before the Social Security Administration.
One of the issues that seems to be "popping" up lately is the complaint concerning hearing wait times.
The numbers tend to fluctuate, especially when SSA attempts to address the long wait times, but on the average, there is somewhere around 1 million claimants waiting for a hearing at any given time throughout the United States. -That's a lot of people, just like yourself, patiently waiting for their day in court.
There are some factors, though, that tend to either increase or decrease disability hearing wait times.
By and far, the most critical factor to wait times is where a claimant lives. For claimants that reside in large metropolitan areas, the wait time to appear before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), will be much longer than someone who lives in a less populated area.
Now, this is not a hard and fast rule, because many claimants that live in rural areas are still going to have to have their hearing in one of the large metropolitan areas. For example, if a claimant lives in a small town in East Texas, he or she may still have to have his or her hearing in Dallas or Houston. These are large metropolitan areas with a large number of claimants waiting to have their hearing, and thus the wait times will still be increased.
For those that live in less populated states, for example, Oklahoma, the wait times may be significantly decreased than other states. The same could be said for other states that are even less populated.
Another factor that may decrease wait times is if the claimant is willing to have a video teleconference hearing instead of insisting on a hearing in-person. Social Security is now making changes which will eliminate this option, which will certainly decrease wait times. While it may be hard to believe, SSA is consistently attempting to reduce the delay.
However, if you meet a certain criteria, your case could be expedited as well. While this will not reduce your wait time significantly, it will save you at least a month or two. One of the criteria is if the claimant is a veteran and his or her impairments were caused by his or her service in the armed forces. Another is if the claimant has a terminal illness and the chances of being alive by the time a hearing is scheduled is suspect, then SSA will also expedite the hearing as well. Lastly, if a person has no place to live and is currently or is going to be homeless, SSA will attempt to reduce the hearing time.
The most important thing a claimant can do is have patience. There are limited resources due to the fact that SSA is a government entity and must maintain a budget. There are only so many judges to hear the cases and the number of claimants can vary at different times of the year.
We help claimants throughout the United States attempting to receive their Social Security disability benefits. Always feel free to contact our office at: (888) 780-9125.