The Inspector General of the Social Security Administration released a report on September 24, 2015 showing the number of cases pending in the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review was a record number over one million cases. The Inspector General is the watchdog of the agency.
Patrick O'Carroll, Inspector General indicated that the increased number was due to four factors:1) An increase in hearing requests; 2) A decrease in Administrative Law Judge productivity; 3) a decrease in Senior Attorney decisions; and 4) A decrease in the number of Administrative Law Judges.
The average processing time across the country is approximately 450 days. The Omaha hearing office average processing time has been growing over the last year and now is near the national average. Over the last year the processing time has grown from approximately 370 days to the current 444 days. This increase in the processing time locally is due to the Administration decision to severely reduce and almost nearly eliminate on the record decisions and personnel changes which has reduced the number of judges from six to four. (A fifth judge recently joined the office but has not started hearing cases yet). At the same time that the personnel changes were occurring a realignment of geographical area serviced by the hearing office expanded the number of cases and sites that were being served. Fortunately for the customers served by this office all of the Judges work hard and are determined to hear cases. In the past the public was well served by Senior Attorneys analyzing and drafting decisions this helped ease the backlog while issuing legally correct decisions but unfortunately the agency discontinued this program as a result of congressional pressure.