The vast majority of my Social Security disability clients are those whose initial application for benefits have been denied and are ready to appeal the agency’s unfavorable decision. This takes the form of a Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge. Today I thought I’d post a bit about the latest data available on SSA disability hearings in Alabama.
Average Waiting Times
So if you are among the unfortunate claimants who are not approved right off the bat, on appeal what is the average waiting times these days for a hearing? For the Fiscal YTD Ending: 01/26/2018 (which is SSA talk for a sample size of the length of time it took from the appeal date to actually conducting a hearing date in the period between 9/30/17 through 1/26/18) the agency has recently provided the following numbers for Alabama.
Just as an FYI, there are currently four Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) locations in Alabama: Florence, Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham. In the last few years the Franklin, TN ODAR has also handled some of the spillover from the Florence office for certain counties, as it was routinely showing up amongst the slowest to process appeals in the country.
Remarkably, given that history (mainly thanks to the Franklin ODAR), the Florence ODAR now “only” takes about 556 days from the appeal date – not the original application date – to conduct a hearing. That puts it in 45th place as far as claimant wait time goes among the 163 nationwide ODARs. That also ranks it first in the state!
Montgomery comes in second in Alabama with a process time of 566 days, putting it at 48th nationally just slightly behind Florence. Next up is Mobile with 595 days and 78th in the country and finally Birmingham weighs in with a whopping 652 days making it 122nd out of the aforementioned 163 ODARs. Franklin, by the way, checks in with 589 days and 74th place respectively.
Shortest Waiting Times
To put things in perspective, the top five fewest ODAR wait times for hearing dates are Providence at 324 days, Boston at 354 days, Houston North at 367 days, Manchester at 375 days and Portland, ME at 396 days. In contrast, the five longest wait times for hearing dates are Philadelphia at 761, New York at 762, the Bronx and Buffalo tied at 763 and finally San Juan at a hefty 872 days.
Now, once you actually get to an ODAR hearing in Alabama, according to DisabilityJudges.com the results for each office are as follows: Montgomery tops the state in approving about 54% of the cases that make it that far, next is Mobile at 50%, Birmingham at 45% and finally Florence at the tail end with 45%. So I guess the takeaway here is that while Florence schedules you for a hearing faster than any other ODAR in the state, the payoff is that it is statistically most likely to deny your appeal.
The SSA further breaks down these numbers nationally for the Fiscal YTD period we are discussing for those interested in reading up on the particular Administrative Law Judge they have been assigned to or have already been before.
If you or your child have been denied SSA disability benefits or suffer from a severe impairment that is expected to last more than twelve months and that prevents you from doing any of your past or other work or is causing developmental delay in your child, please contact your nearest Bond & Botes office to set up a free consultation appointment to discuss your situation.