|(03 Nov 2011)
Despite the Social Security Administration's longstanding goal of reducing the number of pending disability cases, very recent SSA data show that these matters continue to head in the opposite direction, reaching 771,318 by the end of September.
The increase -- up 9.3% from what it was a year ago -- marked the fifth straight quarter that the number of these cases has increased. These disturbing trends regarding SSA's faltering efforts, noted by TRAC in two previous reports, thus appear to be continuing.
In testimony to Congress on July 11, Commissioner Michael J. Astrue reemphasized that "[e]liminating our hearings backlog and preventing its recurrence remains our number one priority."
Since these new cases are only beginning to reach the decision stage, it is too early to determine their ultimate impact on decision times. But nationally, average processing times rose for the first time for cases disposed of during September. In addition, almost half (46 percent) of all hearing offices saw their average hearing times increase as compared with the previous month, and nearly one in four have had rising processing times for at least a year.
More details on pending SSA disability cases and processing times nationally and for each region and hearing office can be found in the TRAC report and accompanying free user app at:
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