Sam Johnson, the Chairman of the House Social Security Subcommittee, asked Social Security's Inspector General to look into the question of how many no-shows and postponements there are for hearings before the agency's Administrative Law Judges (ALJs). Here's some of the response:
In FY 2016, the national hearing no-s how rate was 9 percent. The New York, New York, Hearing Office had the highest no-show rate at 15.9 percent while the Franklin, Tennessee, Hearing Office had the lowest no-show rate at 1.2 percent. In FY 2016, the national postponement rate was 8 percent. The Anchorage, Alaska, Hearing Office had the highest postponement rate at 20.4 percent while the Ponce, Puerto Rico, Hearing Office had the lowest postponement rate at 2.7 percent. Our interviews with office managers representing hearing offices with the highest no-show and postponement rates identified a large number of unrepresented claimants and a transient clientele as reasons for no-shows and postponement.Here's an interesting chart from the report, showing a significant rise in the no-show rate in recent years:
Why would the no-show rate have gone up significantly over the last few years? My guess is that it's related to an increase in the rate of claimants who are unrepresented. I'm pretty sure there are more unrepresented claimants now than there were a few years ago. Normally, attorneys only get a fee if they win. Attorneys avoid cases they think they are unlikely to win. It's become harder to win cases. As a result, attorneys tighten their intake criteria leaving more claimants unrepresented. For reasons I've never understood, Social Security never releases information on the percentage of claimants who are and aren't represented. However, I know that my firm and every other firm I know has tightened its intake criteria.
By the way, the implosion of Binder and Binder probably affected the availability of representation in New York City. Also, by the way, Anchorage is notorious for being the harshest hearing office in the country. As a result, claimant representation in Alaska has collapsed.