Below is Social Security's Hearings Caseload Analysis Report for the first nine months of fiscal year (FY) 2016, which began on October 1, 2015. This was published in the newsletter of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR). That newsletter is not available online.
Here are some signs of just how badly things are going:
- The adjusted case receipts for the nine month time period were 746,300. The dispositions were 662,522. This means they were only able to handle 89% of the workload they received.
- They had 977,736 cases pending at the beginning of the FY and 1,121,267 cases pending as of the end of June (actually June 24, which the agency treats as the end of June). That's a 15% increase in the backlog.
- Look at the bizarre stops and starts in overtime. It went from 109.75 hours in November 2015 to 48,924.74 hours in December but then declined to 85.5 hours in March. Why? Social Security surges its overtime as soon as it gets an appropriation. That number then rapidly declines as the money starts to run out. It's boom or bust.
- Take a look at the note at the bottom. The Senior Attorney program only disposed of 732 cases in this nine month period! This is ridiculous. It's less than the productivity you'd get from two Administrative Law Judges. That number of Senior Attorney decisions could be multiplied by 100 without having causing harm. All that would happen is that the sickest claimants, the ones who will certainly be approved anyway, would be approved more quickly. The Senior Attorney program has been subjected to such extreme limitations that it cannot function. It's a waste of resources. Don't tell me that agency management cares about the backlog. They know well that the Senior Attorney program could be a huge help in holding down backlogs but they either don't care or they're adopted the attitude of many Congressional Republicans that the only good disposition of a Social Security disability claim is a denial.
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