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Negative Trends At Hearing Level Continue

2015 April 15
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by Steve Perrigo

According to appeals data just released by the Social Security Administration, the nationwide disability hearing backlog, processing times and amount of hearing decisions continue to trend in negative directions.

The hearing backlog now stands at 1,030,899 pending claims, an increase of 5.4 percent in fiscal year (FY) 2015.

Processing times, as measured from the time the hearing is filed until a decision is rendered, have now increased to 454 days, or approximately 15 months.  This is up 32 days, or 7.6 percent, from the average of 422 days it took just six months ago at the end of FY 2014.

In addition, the number of hearing decisions is on pace to be the lowest since FY 2008, and down 21.6 percent from peaking in FY 2012.

Agency officials have forecasted these negative trends to continue through 2017, primarily citing deficient federal funding and challenges in the process of hiring qualified administrative law judges. 

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