Predictably and unfortunately the bad news continues for persons seeking disability benefits. The national average processing time for claims before the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review has risen to 432 days, which is up from 421 in December 2014, 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% since July though this is down from 46% in December of 2013.
In Tennessee, the average processing time has increased to 462 days, which is an increase from 455 days in December 2014, 433 days in October, 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 back down to 51%, which is down from 53% in December of 2013.
In terms of averages for local offices, the Middlesboro, KY office has jumped up to 410 days, which is up from 388 days in December 2014 and 378 days in July 2014. The average percentage of cases approved has dropped to 43% down from 44% in July 2014 and down from 45% approved in May of 2014.
The Kingsport ODAR is still the best performing Tennessee hearing office. The average processing time increased slight to 339 from 335 days in December 2014, which is a decrease from 344 days in July and 346 days in May. However, these numbers are still above the historic average for this top performing hearing office. The Kingsport hearing office has an average of 57% cases approved, which is down from 58% in October 2014 and 59% in July of 2014.
The Chattanooga hearing office continues to increase with an average processing time now of 519 days. This is up from 503 days in December 2014, days in October, 458 days in July of 2014, 429 in February, and 390 days in December of 2013. However, the Chattanooga ODAR currently has the highest average of cases approved at 60%. This is up from 58% in December 2014, 55% in October and 56% in July of 2014.
The Knoxville ODAR average processing time has ballooned! It is now at 540 days! This is up from 537 days in December 2014, 497 days in October 2014, 487 days in July, 474 in May, 457 days in February, and 406 days in December of 2013. The Knoxville average approval rate did actually go up to 49% cases approved. This is up from 44% in December 2014, and 46% in October. These numbers are historically low for Knoxville. In December of 2013, the Knoxville ODAR was at 53%. 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.