Jan 21, 2016

The Depressing State Of Hearing Backlogs At Social Security


 

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

And the statistics don't reflect the true story. I have several clients waiting over 24 months for their hearings to be held from the date of the request depending on the particular ODAR and ALJ involved.

Anonymous said...

3:28 is absolutely correct.. The problem is much worse.

The numbers are calculated by only counting closed cases. They average the typical case with the dismissals, which are often after only two or three months due to late filing, along with the smattering of dire need and OTR cases.

In reality, the office where I do much of my work lists a processing time of 17 months, but the mean time to a hearing held is now 23 months. Add in the writing time, now two to three months on average/ and the 17 month claim becomes over two years for the typical claimant. ODAR knows this but prefers to lie to make their numbers look only terrible instead of tragic.

Anonymous said...

And yet even after their clients have waited this long, and even though they were retained over a year prior, 99% of the representatives that appear before me have still not completed the record, requested records for the first time only after the notice of hearing went out, and want the record held open after the hearing....

Anonymous said...

Agree totally with Anon 6:25. My office schedules as much as 8 months out; I'm fully scheduled for that time. When I finish a hearing in which the rep asks for more time to submit MER, and if a supplemental hearing is needed, you can add at least 8 more months to the processing time. I do schedule supplemental hearings where the late submitted MER make a substantial difference. Having a complete record the first time would be much more efficient for all concerned.

Amishboy51 said...

This is more than depressing; it's disgraceful that we make claimants wait for a year and longer, in most offices, for a hearing and decision. However, that said, I don't have any ideas other than to hire many more Alj's and staff. I wonder if the public would be less concerned about the ALJ decision error rate if they knew about the processing time backlogs at ODAR.

Anonymous said...

Seems almost 50% of hearing time is now rehashing cl PRW. If DDS required to do a definitive PRW analysis almost twice as many hearings could be scheduled.

Dan Smith said...

As 6:25 and 6:53 point out, the delays that are compounded by failure to obtain a complete MER are completely unacceptable. What worse example of adding insult to injury could there be than waiting two years for a hearing, only to have your own rep's ineptitude delay a decision further? I addressed this very problem when I decided to go solo by including a warranty in client fee agreements that my fee will be cut in half in the event that missing MER delays a hearing decision. I'm hoping the idea will call catch on eventually.

Anonymous said...

While its never good to have to do a supplemental, it is important for ODAR and ALJs in particular to understand that the long hearing delays and pushing worsening poverty for the claimant undermines their ability to get care, or seek monies from family,etc to go get care. I can tell my clients all the time that they need to stay in care, get to their specialist so I will have the information for hearing. However they can not or will not spend money until they know we are going to have a scheduling. There will always be last minute evidence because without Medicaid expansions, many of my clients remain uninsured and/or with high copay/deductibles that do not allow them to get care or take the risk of incurring more debt unless there is hope on the horizon. They delay tests, treatment, evaluations because they need to feed their families while ODAR sits on their files. I love it that the ALJs ALWAYS blame the reps. Sure, there are bad reps, but that is not the issue. Look at your files and see the patterns. With my clients I there is always a lot of medical records generated in that 120 days before hearing. It is unfortunate, but the clients are told upfront that there is a minimum wait of 18 months for hearing. All of this could be much better if my clients new there was a date or even a month certain for a hearing, or better yet...FIX DDS.

Tim said...

3:53 PM (1/15), 5:30 PM, 6:11 PM (Attorney Fee Payments Continue To Decline) refer to DDS' "cursory" review... So, your essentially telling me DDS' job is to take a half-assed "look" at the files, fill out a RFC rating that allows you to deny and then hopes the claimant goes away... Then goes through the charade again at reconsideration... So, when the claimant asks for a hearing and an OTR, the atorneys give the impression (going through the motions) that they actually make a decision... Claimant has to hire a rep for the hearing... SSA employees at all levels claim the "greedy" reps are just trying to "profit" from the unfortunate, poor claimants... Meanwhile, hopelessness after 2 years of waiting leads some to become suicidal... Republicans get upset about 35-40% approval rates to claimants that already "had 2 chances" to be approved... Am I missing anything?

Tim said...

Oh, yeah, the other 2 "bites" at the apple... The Appeals Council... which appears to be becoming another charade... and Federal Courts... "Good luck with that!!!"

Anonymous said...

The problem with uploading the MER is that with the wait getting longer it is impossible to know when to get the records. In California, a medical provide must give records free one time for hearing. So if I send my client to get the records after 8 months anticipating a 12 month wait and then the wait ends up being 16 months, the records are out of date. Our if it is a case where I can get records through worker comp, I ends up doing multiple uploads for the treater since we keep having to update.

The Odars I appear at are running at least 3 months behind these numbers.

Anonymous said...

@6:25 and 6:53,

In my region of the country, certain large health care facilities will often take 2 and 3 months to furnish records, despite the 30 day HIPPA requirements. Reporting them does nothing to change their behavior. I live in a no-fee state, so they have nothing to gain by furnishing records in a timely fashion.

Judges in my state/region always want records that go right up until the date of the hearing, even inconsequential doctors office visits, etc. The point of this is that I could have a complete file when the hearing is scheduled, but if the client is continually going to these large providers right up until the date of the hearing, the case will inevitably end up in post because even if I request records from these sources as soon as the client notifies me they go, it will be 2-3 months before I get the records.

Also, I can't tell you how many times it has happened that despite being asked 5-6 different times from the initial application to the hearing date what sources they have treated at (I also check again with the claimant prior to going into the hearing room if we have everything), claimants will come out with some new procedure or doctor they never told us about in the hearing. This is also why Dan Smith's idea of returning fees if cases go into post sounds Pollyannaish. 95% or more of the time my cases go into post, it is due to evidence that is within the 3 month timeframe prior to the hearing date that providers haven't submitted in a timely manner, or due to the client not informing us of a source. Yet, many judges simply assume it is the attorney's fault without asking. Pretty frustrating.

Anonymous said...

The new normal. Get used to it. It exists everywhere.

Dan Smith said...

@6:18

Thanks for the feedback. (I mean it. I catch a lot of sh** from defensive reps for floating this idea and i appreciate constructive criticism).

Needless to say, recent medical records (within a month or two of the hearing) are not the kinds of MER my warranty is designed to capture. I dont think I need to detail the types of liberties some of the big players in the field take when it comes to collecting MER, but it"s not records withn months of the hearing.

So to clarify, all of the judges in your area expect records up to the date of the hearing from even inconquential providers? That's not my experience here in the Philly metro area. Where are you talking about?

Anonymous said...

Dan, as a result of the new regs regarding submission of evidence most ALJs are asking if the record is up to date, etc, and typically are requiring that the record be updated which requires that it be put in post even if the claimant just saw their GP yesterday just for a med refill.

And then you need to notify them of the next appt the claimant had while you wait for copies of the last records...

Anonymous said...

Video hearings are worthless. NHC is longer than some in-person hearing offices.

Anonymous said...

Curious, how long should it take? I remember 999 day claims, when they were stacked up so high that you never thought you would see a hearing. 30 days, 180 days, 360? Not every process lends itself to Amazon type response times. What is the "backlog" to get a civil case through the courts? Workers Comp and Immigration use ALJs don't they? What are the wait times for those? Just curious as to how fast it "should" be handled.

Anonymous said...

Comparing worker comp and social security wait times is like comparing apples to oranges. Most worker comp cases settle before or at trial. So a judge will have 6-8 set at one time and maybe one of them is tried. In the federal longshore arena has about a year to wait for trial but then it can take 2 years to get a decision. For state cases it takes about 3 months too get a hearing and decision is usually out in 90 days in California.

Anonymous said...

A comment following the first 2 comments re statistics: Several years ago at the Greensboro ODAR (my region of practice was transferred to another ODAR since), several times, I would suddenly receive a notice of hearing for a few clients who had been awaiting hearings for only 2-4 months (these were NOT dire need cases), whereas the average wait time must have been about 12-15 months. These were all cases assigned to one ALJ. I have always suspected that the ALJ did some quick cases to decrease the statistical wait times. I had one case about a year ago in the present ODAR in which a case with a recent request for hearing was supposedly "dire need." Neither the client nor I had requested an expedited hearing. There was never any letter or other document in the record supporting dire need or expedited hearing, and the ALJ claimed to know nothing about it. However, adding a low number to an array of higher numbers will significantly drop the statistical mean. Has anyone else seen something like this going on?

Anonymous said...

11:56: this has happened in our office before. I, too, share in your theory as to why this happens. My practice is in the Midwest.

eddie yanez said...

Fuck the government