Dire Backlogs Grow: Applicants Face Long Waits for Justice

In today’s USA Today, this article discusses the growing numbers for pending cases. In spite of everything SSA is doing to reduce these times and numbers, it can’t seem to keep up with new applications:

“More than 728,000 Americans are awaiting appeal hearings for Social Security disability benefits, a 5% jump in pending cases during the last year, a new report shows.

“The increase, partly a result of more disabled persons unable to find jobs during the recession, may make it harder for the Social Security Administration to continue reducing waiting times for benefits rulings, according to the analysis.
“History shows that if this growth is unchecked, as hearing dockets become more and more clogged, wait times will grow,” said the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a data research organization at Syracuse University that studied the data through March 31.

“Social Security Administration Commissioner Michael Astrue questioned the significance of the increase in pending appeals, which new data from the agency shows have jumped to 740,998 as of May 27. While TRAC officials said that buttressed their report’s findings, Astrue said the more meaningful measure was the faster processing and decision-issuing times produced by his agency’s improvement efforts.

” However, he said it was uncertain whether the agency would meet its goal to reduce the average waiting time for benefits — 367 days on average nationally for October through April — to 270 days by 2013. The TRAC report cites agency statistics that show wait times peaked at an average of 514 days for cases disposed of in federal fiscal year 2008…” More details here: