One of the biggest concerns facing those who have a Social Security Disability appeal pending is the wait time for the legal process to play out. Because completing an application is only the first step in what can be a very long process, it is often many months past the application date when your case is heard by an Administrative Law Judge in a regional court known as an Office of Disability Adjudication Review – ODAR for short. Appeal processing wait times are increasing as federal budget allocations are repeatedly cut.
The situation in the Baltimore, Maryland region is even worse than what is being seen on a national level. John Fritze of the Baltimore Sun recently wrote an article addressing the backlog of cases waiting for hearings in the Baltimore regional ODAR. The article is titled: “Social Security Disability backlog in Maryland Among Highest in Nation.” Mr. Fritze notes that the backlog in Baltimore’s ODAR for case processing has steadily increased since 2012 to an average of seventeen months wait time. Remember that appeals that arrive at Baltimore’s ODAR have already moved through initial application and reconsideration phases of the SSDI application and appeal process. This usually has already taken close to a year of processing time. The Baltimore ODAR additional wait time of seventeen month for a hearing means that disability claimant sare waiting close to two and a half years to have their Social Security Disability appeal sheard by an Administrative Law Judge. The situation at the Baltimore ODAR is particularly disturbing because, as Mr. Fritze notes in his article, the wait time in Baltimore is worse than New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and more than 150 other courts.
Mr. Fritze points out that continually decreasing Federal budget allocations for Social Security Administration operations have had a major impact on this appeal wait time since 2011. In fact, the wait time for those applying for disability had in the past consistently dropped every year since 2007. The wait time at the Baltimore ODAR had been reduced to twelve months by 2011. However, due to repeated budget reductions resulting in more and more personnel shortages after 2011, the wait time for Social Security Disability appeals to be scheduled for hearing has since increased dramatically. Until the federal government begins once again to allocate the appropriate resources to these vital programs, this delay will only get worse for those applying for disability.
The disability claim backlog has already been a subject of several hearings on Capitol Hill and more will be scheduled. You can help to effect change that is so desperately needed.If you want to see more action by Congress to correct this injustice perpetrated against one of our most vulnerable populations, contact your Maryland Congressman and Senators. Express your concern about the excessive and worsening delay in processing disability appeals.