By Barbara J. Artuso, Esq.
When we speak with clients about Social Security Disability cases, one of the most distressing pieces of information we have to tell them is how long it will take for their hearing to be scheduled.
During the wait, people who have applied for Social Security benefits exhaust savings, borrow from friends and families, lose cars and homes, and sometimes even die. While some individuals who are terminally ill or have lost their housing may have their cases expedited, even expedited cases are not heard immediately, just sooner. Inquiries by federal officials such as U.S. senators or representatives may or may not help expedite a claim.
Feelings of helplessness, anger and frustration are a natural result of this waiting period. We understand those feelings, but, unfortunately, we can do little to speed up the process.
According to the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR), the “average” wait for a hearing is approaching one and one-half years; in some hearing offices, it is more than two and one-half years. In addition, the number of pending cases is growing. New staff cannot be hired due to a hiring freeze, and the most experienced staff members continue to leave as they reach retirement age. The commissioner of the Social Security Administration, testifying before Congress, acknowledged that he expected the level of service to diminish this year.
It’s important to remember that the delay is not personal to anyone. It is simply a matter of the huge number of cases pending, and the relatively small number of staff available to process them.
If you have questions about Social Security, please contact our Social Security department via email or phone us at 724-837-0080 in Greensburg or toll free at 888-534-6016, and we will review your individual circumstances with you in detail.
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