Hearing Waits Continue to Grow
Hearing waits at the eight Social Security disability claims hearing offices where we appear most frequently continue to steadily grow. According to numbers recently published by the Social Security Administration, waits to have a hearing at the following hearing offices total:
Detroit: 13 months; Mount Pleasant: 16 months; Livonia: 15 months; Toledo: 11 months; Lansing: 13 months; Oak Park: 15 months; Flint: 13.5 months; and Grand Rapids: 14 months.
These numbers don’t even tell the whole story. Dismissals, withdraws, dire need requests and on the record favorable decisions are included in these totals, which bring the wait averages down. So the majority of cases that actually attend hearings actually wait even longer than the published times.
Clients will often ask if there is any way that we can speed up the scheduling of their hearings. As mentioned above, we can request a dire need request or an on the record favorable decision. For a Judge to consider a dire need request, we need to present a foreclosure, eviction or shut off notice. For an on the record favorable decision request, proof of a terminal illness or serious worsening is often required. Absent such drastic changes, most people have to wait for their hearings to be scheduled by the court. This growing backlog of hearing cases needs to be a top priority for the Social Security Administration.
What can you do while you wait for your hearing? The two most important things are seeing your doctor regularly and keeping your attorney informed of your medical treatment. Besides your testimony at a hearing, the most important aspect of your hearing will be the medical documentation supporting your condition. You want to have as much medical records as possible supporting your impairments. Additionally, you keep your attorney informed about your treatment so he/she can make sure the records are ordered in time and submitted to the Judge. Ideally, you should have all available medical records to the Judge prior to your hearing for his/her review. It is very frustrating when a client tells us the morning of a hearing that they forgot to tell us about a new doctor or hospital visit. This will cause further delay in the case because the Judge will want these records ordered and submitted before the final decision.