Why is the disability process so backlogged? It’s a question many people are asking, and they’re receiving very few answers. Currently, Social Security applicants are waiting at least two years for a hearing. Why is that? While there are many different reasons contributing to the massive backlog, the sheer volume is one of the biggest factors.
For instance, in 2013, 2,640,100 people applied for Social Security Disability benefits. From 2003 to 2013, the number of disability applicants increased 28%. That’s a significant increase over a short period of time. Though it’s been four years since these stats were compiled, the problem still exists, and there are even more applicants filing for disability now.
So, there has been a steady increase in the number of applicants for nearly 14 years. Currently, the SSA is struggling to replace judges who are retiring. According to a recent report in The Dallas Star-Telegram, there are only 10 Administrative Law Judges for every 5,899 cases. That’s almost 600 cases per judge.
According to a recent census, there are 854,000 people in the Fort Worth area. For all intents and purposes, Fort Worth is a large city. But what about smaller, more rural areas? What does the situation look like in those areas?Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law is located in West Virginia. The capital of West Virginia is Charleston. The population in Charleston is just under 50,000 people. The Charleston ODAR office has 11 judges. On the surface, it would seem that a city with 1/10th the population of Fort Worth has more ALJs. Technically it’s true. However, the Charleston, WV ODAR serves far more counties than the Fort Worth ODAR does. Some individuals have to travel hours to have an in-person hearing at the Charleston, WV ODAR office. (Video hearings are often available within shorter distances.) Looking at the states as a whole, West Virginia has a total of 3 ODAR offices and 28 judges for the entire state. However, Texas has 8 ODAR offices and 98 judges.
Though the Fort Worth office has more new cases, their average wait time for a hearing is 14 months. The wait time at the Charleston, WV ODAR is 22 months. In other words, if you’re in certain areas of West Virginia, you’re going to wait at least 8 more months for a hearing than if you’re in the Fort Worth area.
This is just one of the many reasons why there is such a big backlog. The Social Security process can be difficult to navigate. But the good news is that you don’t have to pursue your case alone. Since 1994, the team at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law has helped thousands of people get the Social Security benefits they deserve. Call toll-free at 1-877-Jan-Dils (1-877-526-3457) today to find out more. If you’d rather talk at a different time, complete this form and the intake team will reach out to you.