The news for Social Security Disability and SSI claimants waiting for a hearing continues to worsen in terms of wait times for hearings and percentage of people awarded disability. Since July of 2014 when I lasted posted on the subject, the situation has not improved in terms of wait times or average approval rates.
The national average processing time for claims before the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review is up to 405 days, which is up from 397 days in July, 390 days in May of 2014, and up from 372 in December of 2013. Nationally, the average approval rate has remained at 44% though this is down from 46% in December of 2013.
In Tennessee, the average processing time has increased to 433 days, which is up from 427 days in July, 419 in May of 2014, 407 days in February, and 388 days in December of 2013. The statewide average of cases approved is actually up to 50% from 49% in July, but overall this down from 53% in December of 2013.
In terms of averages for local offices, Middlesboro is up two days from July at 278 (up from 366 days in February) with 43% of cases being approved (down from 45% approved in May of 2014).
The Kingsport ODAR is still the best performing Tennessee hearing office. The average time is down to 341 days, which is a decrease from 344 days in July and 346 days in May. However, these numbers are still above the average of 326 days in December of 2013. The Kingsport hearing office has an average of 58% case approved, which is a slight decrease (59%) since July.
Chattanooga has increased to 472 days, which is up from 458 days in July of 2014, 429 in February, and 390 days in December. The Chattanooga ODAR is at 55% of cases approved, which is down from 56% in July of 2014.
The Knoxville ODAR average processing time continues to increase. The latest numbers show an average of 497 days, which is up to 487 days in July, 474 in May, 457 days in February, and 406 days in December. The Knoxville average approval rate actual improved to 46% from 45% in July. However, these numbers are still below historical averages. In May of 2014, 48% of claims were approved and that was down from 53% in December. Unfortunately, these numbers confirm that on a whole the average processing times are going up everywhere while the percentage of case approved by Administrative Law Judges continues to decline.
The hearing office staff work hard and understand the frustrations of the claimants and representatives, but they are hamstrung by the workload and budgetary restraints.
If you need more information about a Social Security Disability/SSI matter, personal injury matter (car wreck, boating accident, slip and fall, etc.), EEOICPA claim, long or short-term disability, VA disability, Railroad Retirement Board disability, or a workers compensation matter, please contact the Law Offices of Tony Farmer and John Dreiser for a free case evaluation. We can be reached at (865) 584-1211 or (800) 806-4611, through Facebook, or through our website. Our office handles claims throughout East Tennessee, including Knoxville, Chattanooga, Kingsport, Bristol, Johnson City, Morristown, Maryville, Rogersville, Dandridge, Tazewell, New Tazewell, Jefferson City, Strawberry Plains, Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Loudon, Kingston, Halls, Maynardville, Crossville, Cookeville, Jamestown, Sweetwater, Lenoir City, Athens, Oak Ridge, Clinton, LaFollette, Lake City, Jacksboro, Bean Station, Cosby, Newport, White Pine, Mosheim, Wartburg, Sunbright, Pigeon Forge, and Deer Lodge.