An Update from the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR)
At a recent conference, Glenn Sklar, the Deputy Commissioner of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) ODAR provided some updates on the functionality of hearing offices (HOs) across the country.
According to Sklar, between 2009-2011, a larger budget allowed ODAR to hire thousands of new support staff members and over 850 Administrative Law Judges (ALJs). The result of this was a nearly 150-day decrease in an average processing times by the end of 2012.
That improvement, however, has been short lived, as budget shortages in the past few years have caused processing times to climb once again. The average is currently 408 days, up substantially from a 2012 low of 353. However, with a more promising fiscal year ahead, the SSA estimates it will be able to hire around 200 new ALJs by the first quarter of fiscal year 2015.
Sklar also discussed his findings after visiting a handful of HOs. He observed greater efficiency overall and a high rate of success with the SSA’s online services, noting that some 85% of ODAR representatives now regularly access their clients’ electronic folders to check files and case status. He also noted that video hearings now account for about 30% of all hearings.