WHAT IS THE WAIT TIME FOR THE HEARING DECISION?
WHAT IS THE WAIT TIME TO GET A HEARING?
Just a few months ago, in October 2022, it took an average wait time of 13 months to get a hearing. The wait time starts from the date you file your request for hearing to the date of your hearing. There is a long wait time to get a hearing with the Office of Hearing Operations due to a number of factors. First, hearings have been delayed because of Covid. The SSA took three months to move to phone and video hearings from in person hearings. Now that Covid cases have eased, the SSA continues to hold phone and video hearings. But, they are also trying to ease back into in person hearings. Both issues have delayed hearings.
Second, thousands of people apply for hearings every year and the judges can only review so many cases per month. The SSA expects judges to review and complete at least 500 hearings per year. Even if every judge from the SSA met this goal, they would still not be able to make up the backlog.
A LIST OF THE HEARING OFFICES WITH THE LONGEST WAIT TIMES
Below is a list, from October 2022, of the average wait time from filing a request for hearing to the date of the hearing. This information is from the SSA. Unfortunately, the longest wait times mostly occur in the western states. Some hearing offices have more than one location in big cities, so the hearing offices are designated by a location in the city. See below:
- Colorado Springs, Colorado: 24 months
- Sacramento, California: 21 months
- Moreno Valley, California: 21 months
- Portland, Oregon: 20 months
- Phoenix (Downtown), Arizona: 20 months
- Pasadena, California: 20 months
- Los Angeles (West), California: 20 months
- Seattle, Washington: 19 months
- Philadelphia (East), Philadelphia: 19 months
- Los Angles (Downtown), California: 19 months
In short, the average wait times at all 168 hearing offices in the United States varied from between eight months to two years of wait time.
WHAT HAPPENS AT THE DISABILITY HEARING?
After your wait time, the SSA will schedule your hearing at the Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) that is closest to you. If you need to travel more than 75 miles to get to your hearing, the SSA will pay you for your for mileage by sending you a check. However, you will need to request a form at the hearing office that you fill out. Once you fill out the form and get it back to the hearing office, they will pay you for your mileage. This may take several months and the check arrives after the hearing.
Your hearing will be held before an Administrative Law Judge. You will be asked questions about your physical and mental conditions. Your lawyer will prepare you for the questions that the Judge will ask. Don’t worry. You will not be alone when you go into court. You will have your attorney with you. Chances are good your lawyer will ask you some questions. Therefore, you can prepare you in advance to answer questions from the judge.
Additionally, your lawyer will often be the person asking you questions. If you want to know more about the hearing, please read our blog. For example, What Questions Will the Judge Ask At My Disability Hearing, would be a good place to start. You can access other articles about your hearing at Questions About Your Disability Hearing.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE HEARING?
Once your judge reviews the medical evidence and listens to your hearing testimony, they will decide whether or not you should be paid SSDI and SSI benefits.
Many people ask, after their hearing, how long the wait time is for the decision to come in the mail. Unfortunately, there is no time limit for the ALJ to issue the written decision. In the past, this was a huge problem for some clients. For example, some judges would take 9 months to a year to issue their decision. That doesn’t happen anymore, as the SSA has become more efficient.
However, there is some good news. Most judges send a written decision with 90 days of the hearing. Considering how long the wait time is for a hearing, this is a speedy process. There is nothing you can do to speed up this process once your hearing is complete. You must simply wait. This is difficult, considering that you have already waited a long period of time just to get a hearing. The good thing is that once the decision arrives in the mail, you will have your answer.
If your attorney has experience and is familiar with the judge, then they probably will have an idea how long your particular judge will take to send out your decision. Some of the wait time may be due to the judge. But, it also depends on if the office is understaffed and how heavy the case load is at your specific hearing office.
WHAT IS THE WAIT TIME FOR THE HEARING DECISION?
The ALJ makes the final decision in your SSDI and SSI case. The actual decision that will be mailed to your home is written by a decision writer (using the information the judge provides). Decision writers are attorneys and members of the staff at your local hearing office. The decision is sent to the judge to review and sign before it is mailed to you.
There are other reasons that can extend your wait time. For example, sometimes the judge requests more medical evidence at the time of the hearing. The judge may want further information from you treating doctor. If so, your attorney can obtain that information. Similarly, the judge may request a Consultative Exam. This means that the SSA will send you for a physical or mental exam to one of their doctors. You can learn more about Consultative Exams here. The judge must wait for the report to come in before a decision about your case is made. Also, the judge must give the report from the doctor to your lawyer for review and comment.
After a wait time of 3 months, if you still have not received your decision in the mail, then you should check with the hearing office or with your attorney. Your attorney can check with the hearing office and can often see the status of your case on the SSA’s computer program. However, it is not normally possible for your attorney to be able to speed up the wait time for the decision.
TO GET MONEY FROM THE SSA, YOU MUST APPLY FOR SSDI AND SSI BENEFITS
If your medical conditions are such that they keep you from working for over a year, then you may be able to get monthly SSDI and SSI benefits. Applying for benefits with our help is simple. We will help you file your application for benefits online on Social Security’s website.
You may not know how to do that. Fortunately, we do. We have spent over 30 years helping clients apply for and win SSDI benefits. During that time, we have won over 20,000 SSD and SSI cases. If you receive SSDI benefits, then within 29 months of your onset date of disability, you will also receive Medicare benefits. Medicare benefits are a form of health insurance that pays your medical bills. Find out more about Medicare benefits here.
APPLY FOR BENEFITS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE – DO NOT WAIT
Make sure to apply for SSDI and SSI benefits as soon as you know you are not going to be able to return to work. If you are already getting VA benefits, then you probably will not receive SSI benefits, because you might receive too much money from the VA. However, you can still apply for SSI benefits to see if you can get them. SSI benefits pay out from the date of your application. Once you receive SSI benefits, you also get Medicaid benefits. Additionally, benefits do not pay if your medical condition began after your date last insured. Learn more about the date last insured here.
With SSDI benefits, you can receive past due benefits one year prior to the date of your application. The opposite is true with SSI benefits. SSI benefits begin the day you apply and they do not go back in time prior to that date. If you need to know how to check on the status of your SSDI or SSI application, read here. If you do not apply quickly, you are losing benefits. Learn more about past due benefits here.
WHAT WE DO TO HELP YOU WIN SSDI AND SSI BENEFITS
You do not need to try to figure out your benefits by yourself. Cannon Disability can help you file your SSDI application. Also, we can help you appeal every SSA denial. For example, our attorneys and staff can:
- Send you the paperwork you need to become our client
- Help you file your application for SSD and SSI benefits
- Inform the SSA that they should automatically pay your benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Rules
- Request reconsideration if you receive an initial denial from Disability Determination Services
- Help you confirm your Consultative Examination
- Request a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Prepare you to be a good witness at your SSA hearing
- Represent you at your hearing and question the vocational and medical witnesses.
- Read more about vocational experts here
- Learn more about medical expert testimony here
- Request review of an unfavorable decision with the Appeals Council
- Request review of an Appeals Council denial in Federal Court
If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back. If you don’t send it back, the SSA will not process your application. Sign it and send it back as soon as possible.
HIRE CANNON DISABILITY FOR OUR YEARS OF EXPERIENCE
Despite the wait time, you will need an attorney to help you in this benefit process. In the past 30 years, we have won millions of dollars in ongoing and past due due benefits for our clients. If you want to win benefits, then hire an attorney with the experience to win your case. We work on a contingency basis. This means we do not charge you any money up front to help you. You only pay us an attorney fee when you win benefits. If you don’t win, you don’t pay an attorney fee. Contact us today.
If you want to learn more about Cannon Disability’s lawyers and staff, then read our About Us page. For example, you can learn about Andria Summers, who is an amazing advocate. She can also help you for free with your Medicare plan. She has won thousands of SSDI and SSI cases.
Additionally, Dianna Cannon has been helping her clients win benefits for over thirty years. Brett Bunkall also has significant experience helping people obtain their SSI and SSD benefits. We are legal experts. You can trust us to help you win your benefits and make it as easy as possible for you.
THIRTY YEARS OF EXPERIENCE CAN HELP WITH THE WAIT TIME FOR YOUR BENEFITS
In the past 30 years, we have won over 20,000 SSDI and SSI cases for our clients. Also, we help our clients get everything they can from their Medicare benefits. Which includes coverage with your current doctor and coverage for your medications.
Additionally, our lawyers and staff can help you apply for SSDI and SSI benefits using the SSA’s website. Likewise, if you need an appeal, we can help you do that too. There are also many forms you will need to fill out. But, don’t worry. If you have questions about these forms, then we will answer them. You can learn more about SSA’s appeal forms here. Call us for free today.
Finally, if there is any way we can speed up the wait time for getting benefits, then we will do what we can. Because we know the wait time is too long. Living without benefits when you have no job is not a pleasant experience. We are aware of this and we do everything we can to help you win your SSDI and SSI benefits as soon as possible.