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Hearing: SSA Changes to Disability Appeal Process

2018 July 23
by Steve Perrigo

The Social Security disability appeals process will come under scrutiny with this week’s House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee hearing.

The hearing, “Examining Changes to Social Security’s Disability Appeals Process,” is set for Wednesday, July 25, at 10 a.m. Eastern, and will address “recent and planned changes affecting the SSA’s disability appeals process, the metrics the SSA uses to evaluate process changes, and the progress the SSA has made to address the appeals backlog,” according to the advisory.

Issues covered in the testimony are wide ranging. They are likely to include the recent Executive Order issued by the White House that initiated a change in the hiring process for administrative law judges (ALJs) following the Supreme Court’s decision siding with Lucia in Lucia v. SEC. The SSA has provided limited information publicly in the wake of the order.

At the same time the ALJ hiring process is receiving attention, the number available to conduct hearings has dropped, from 1,722 ALJs on Dec. 31, 2017, to 1,680 ALJs as of March 31, 2018. The 42-judge decline seems out of alignment with the SSA’s stated plans of maintaining a strong corps of ALJs and support staff to improve the hearing backlog.

The committee also appears to want an update on how the SSA is spending $100 million in additional funds to address the hearing backlog and if resolution will occur before the projected date of 2022. While the number of people waiting for a hearing has dipped below one million, to 925,793, the average wait time for a hearing decision remains high at 598 days from the date the hearing is filed.

Also, on the agenda is more detail about the federal agency’s plan to reintroduce the Reconsideration level in 10 “skip” states.

Allsup will monitor the hearing and provide updates, as appropriate.

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