I try to warn clients during our first meeting, that SSA will not move quickly. This is hard to accept since most people are in dire financial situations and without health insurance during this time period.
In 2015, the national average processing time was 517 days. The record high was reached in October 2008, and was 532 days, so we are right there again. Why? (1) More people are applying. This can be due to the population growth, the aging of the baby boomer generation, the poor economy, or any other number of factors, but the number of applicants for SS Disability has risen steadily year after year. (2) Due to cutbacks, SSA has decreased a position called Senior Attorney Adjudicator. This position was created to review cases awaiting a hearing (which is the largest wait time) to see if they can be granted right then. This was a wonderful idea, and really helped for the very short period of time it was functional. (3) Less Judges hearing fewer cases. There are periods when SSA is not able to replace retiring Judges due to budgeting issues. So the wait time goes up. Every few years, they do hire a bunch of new Judges, who take years to train and bring up to speed. (4) SSA has decreased the number of cases Judges are expected to hear! In 2012, Judges were expected to rule on 1,200 cases per year, in 2015, this number has decreased to 720. The defense of this is that they want the Judges to take their time and make better decisions, which is valid, but the result is, longer wait times for claimants.
Locally, the Ft. Worth office is ranked 13th in the Country, with an average processing time of 402 days. Dallas has 2 offices, the Northern one is ranked 35th with an average weight of 455 days and the Downtown Dallas office trails at number 85, with an average of 522 days. Miami is the slowest region, ranked # 163 with a 721 day average wait; while Alexandria, LA is in first with only 332 days. The wait time for the fastest hearing office is just shy of a year! This is why I tell my clients at our very first meeting that this will not be a fast process and it is better to know what to expect going in.