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Hearing Backlog Grows, Despite Increase In ALJs

2016 January 14
by Steve Perrigo

The Social Security Administration ended 2015 with almost 1.1 million claimants pending at the hearing level, marking the fifth consecutive yearly increase and the highest number of pending hearings ever.

Average nationwide processing times at the hearing level also continued their negative trend, eclipsing the 500-day mark. Hearing decisions now average 505 days to process, which is over 150 days longer than processing times in 2012.  This time does not include time accrued at the initial application and reconsideration levels, which precede the hearing level.

The number of administrative law judges (ALJs) did grow slightly in fiscal year 2015, from 1,433 to 1,519, a 6 percent increase.  The agency continues to advocate for hiring additional ALJs to address the hearing backlog, with their goal number of 1,800-1,900 by FY 2018.

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