Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Social Security Disability Hearings and Hidden Backlogs

There's a post on attorney Charles Hall's blog titled Hearing Office Backlogs Report .

Hall essentially states that the disability hearing backlog problem is masked to some extent by the fact that the wait times at hearings offices are calculated from the time a hearing request has actually been logged in at an ODAR (formerly known as OHA, office of hearings and appeals).

However, a request for a disability hearing before an administrative law judge may have been sent in considerably sooner by a disability claimant and may have sat at a social security field office for weeks or months before being transmitted to a hearing office.

The question is why? Hall answers this by stating that data entry backlogs at social security offices are preventing cases from moving to hearing offices. In effect, there is a substantial plug in the pipeline, one that the social security administration is not admitting to.

The next question, of course, one that Hall does not address in his post is: why is there a data entry backlog at social security field offices?

Two reasons exist, IMO. One is chronic short staffing at social security offices. And the other reason is one that no one seems to have mentioned at various social security related websites, but has been related to me by field office claims reps--the conversion to EDIB.

Social Security offices still receive a few paper disability applications, but not enough to be problematic. The real issue is the receipt of reconsideration requests and hearing requests, both of which are mainly paper. To get these things "assimilated" into EDIB, the electronic folder system...they have to be typed manually. And that means typing everything a claimant writes on a form 3441...even if the claimant has written in a manner that is nearly unreadable and even if the claimant has written around the edges and corners (fairly common).

It should not be surprising to anyone that there's a data entry backlog. It would be nice, however, if someone at SSA would acknowledge the issue and the effect on the social security disability appeal system.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts

Apply for disability - how do you
Apply for disability - what happens after disability is applied for
Social Security Disability Benefits