Lengthy Wait Times for Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearings are Costing Lives
Each month, the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) hearing-level processing time increases. Unfortunately, the increase is proving lethal for claimants who are too ill to survive the lengthy wait.
According to the SSA, between September 26, 2015 and September 1, 2016, 7,897 claimants died while their hearing requests were pending. The SSA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reports that the average age of these now-deceased claimants was 50 years old, and the average wait time for a hearing was 403 days.
Terminally ill claimants’ cases are flagged as critical, and as of March 2016, there were 1,090 such claimants. Their average wait time for a hearing was 189 days. The OIG reports that during the period studied, 63 claimants whose cases were flagged critical died while awaiting their hearings.
Unfortunately, national average processing times have increased over 100 days since last fiscal year, and now stand at 587 days as of the end of September 2016. Currently, upwards of 1.1 million claims are awaiting ALJ hearings.