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Increased Funds May Spell Relief for Social Security Hearing Backlog

2014 January 31
by Steve Perrigo

The Social Security Administration began this fiscal year facing ongoing resource constraints that appeared to add to the hearing backlog. The SSA’s year began Oct. 1, 2013, but immediately halted with the federal shutdown that lasted until Oct. 16.

For the first three months, pending hearings increased 17 percent to 903,720 claims pending for the first quarter of FY 2014, up from 771,318 claims pending at fiscal year-end 2011.

 Hearing level pending claims

  • 903,720 – First quarter 2014
  • 847,984 – FY 2013
  • 816, 575 – FY 2012
  • 771,318 –  FY 2011

Claims pending longer than 270 days have increased 53 percent from 217,676 claims in FY 2011 to 333,418 claims for first quarter FY 2014. In addition, hearing level processing times have increased to 393 days for first quarter FY 2014 from 360 days in FY 2011.

The good news is SSA’s administrative funding for FY 2014 has been approved at $11.7 billion, which includes an increase of $651 million.

In recent testimony before the Social Security Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, SSA Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin said the approval of these added funds would allow the SSA to restore some of the staffing losses the agency has experienced since 2011.

With continued emphasis on enacting timely funding, Congress can help the SSA to stabilize some of its resource issues and recover from the funding uncertainty of recent years.

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