We represent a 58 year old from Fair Lawn, NJ, with mental and physical impairments, who requested a hearing with an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) on September 7, 2022. The good news is that ALJ Dina Loewy from the Jersey City hearing office approved Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits today OTR. Unfortunately, it took 13 months to obtain the OTR.
The average wait time for a hearing at the Jersey City office is 13 months, which is better than most hearing offices. For example, the average wait time for a hearing at the Long Island hearing office is 16 months. Consequently, the Long Island hearing office has been transferring SSD appeals to other offices, like Albany and Hartford, which have average hearing waits of 14 and 13 months respectively.
It is not a secret that ALJs are under pressure to increase the number of cases they adjudicate in order to reduce the hearing wait times. An internal memo from last year from the Deputy Communications Commissioner for Social Security, said that years of inadequate funding resulted in the agency being unable to ” keep up with the demand for service and our annual fixed cost increases.” According to the memo, Disability Determination Services (“DDS”), which assesses disability claims, experienced “historically high attrition as workloads become less reasonable with fewer staff.”
It would seem to be in everyone’s best interest if the number of ALJs and State agency representatives could be increased. The SSD safety net was designed to help workers at the most vulnerable point of their careers. Workers paid into the system for the explicit purpose of receiving some limited financial assistance just in case they become disabled. Workers should not have to wait a year for the DDS to render a decision, and if denied, then wait over another year for a hearing with an ALJ.
If you are thinking about applying for SSD, you should retain an experienced disability attorney to represent you. The process of applying is not a simple one and can cause a claimant a lot of undue stress. Our offices are located in Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island. We offer a free phone consultation.
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