Wait times for SSA disability hearings have been reduced to an average of just under a year and a half.
Video Teleconferencing Helping Reduce Vast Backlog of Cases
You've been denied Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). You've appealed. You wait to hear from the Social Security Administration (SSA) about when your hearing will be. Then you wait some more. And some more.
Just a few years ago, those attempting to get a hearing in front of an administrative law judge could wait over 3 years before the case was heard. While that wait time has been reduced, it can still be a lengthy process; in 2010 the average applicant finally had his or her hearing after waiting a little under a year and a half. Currently 2 million people are waiting to receive benefits from Social Security.
SSA Commissioner Michael Astrue recently said his top goal was to reduce the backlog of cases. To that end, SSA is promoting video hearings. A video hearing is identical to regular hearings, but takes place with the applicant and attorney talking to the judge through a large television screen. Everyone can see each other and everyone else in the room, such as the applicant's attorney and any expert witnesses in the room with the judge. The video hearing takes place in a nearby SSA office of the applicant, while the judge could be on the other side of the country.
Some of the benefits of video hearings for the applicant include:
Less wait time
Avoiding the cost and inconvenience of travel, especially beneficial for disabled persons
Preparing for the Hearing
No matter whether it is a traditional hearing in a courtroom or a video hearing, a few things can help speed up the hearing wait time and make sure that everything goes well when the day finally arrives.
It is important to contact an attorney early in the process. An attorney can prepare for the trial in advance, and will have time to gather all of the medical evidence and carefully read your file. You should attend your hearing and arrive promptly. If you can't make the hearing, it will likely be rescheduled months later assuming you have a valid excuse. Notify your attorney if you change your address or telephone number.
After a hearing, it takes about 30 to 60 days before you'll hear the judge's decision regarding your benefits.
Article provided by Michael J. Mooney and Stephen H. Olden Law Offices - Visit us at www.mooneyparklaw.com
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