The long delays in processing applications for Social Security benefits has been the subject of years of analysis and dissatisfaction. Unfortunately it is not getting better, although the enormous backlogs have been reduced somewhat. There are still long delays at each of the application and appeal stages. The wait for a hearing – and hearing requests can be 6-12 months into the process – remains troubling.
These long delays underline the importance of winning a claim early. Skilled advocacy can make all the difference here. If a claimant wins a case at the initial claim level because of careful presentation of evidence supporting the claim, there could be extra benefits just by avoiding these delay bottlenecks of appeals. Certainly monthly benefits could start paying out far earlier.
On average, the hearing request processing time was 382 days in FY 2013. For upcoming years, the picture does not improve. The expected wait time for a hearing is 415 days in FY 2014 and 435 days in FY 2015. In earlier years, the national average hearing request processing time was 353 days in FY 2012, 360 days in FY 2011 and 426 days in FY 2010. So the wait time for a hearing has actually increased this year.