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Mon Oct 24, 2016, 01:41 PM

Federal Judges Meeting in San Diego Say 500-Day Wait for SSA Disability Hearings Will Get Longer...

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For immediate release October 24, 2016


Jamie Horwitz, jhdcpr@starpower.net, 202/549-4921

500 Days to Wait for a Hearing?

Federal Judges from Across the Nation to Discuss the Newly Imposed Social Security Hiring Freeze and What That Means for a Backlog of More than One Million Disability Cases at San Diego Meeting, Oct. 25 - 27

SAN DIEGO – American workers, who now wait more than 500 days to get a hearing on disputed disability cases, will be forced to wait even longer due to a 2017 hiring freeze imposed by the Social Security Administration.

The growing case backlog and other key issues affecting America’s disability insurance system – which covers more than 170 million workers – will be discussed when federal administrative law judges (ALJs) gather in San Diego this week.


Federal judges who hear Social Security disability claims


Association of Administrative Law Judges (AALJ) Conference on Professionalism and Productivity


Tues., Oct. 25 – Thurs., Oct. 27


Wyndham San Diego Bayside, 1355 N. Harbor Drive,

San Diego

As America’s workforce ages, an increasing number of workers are applying for disability benefits. More than 10 million Americans who are unable to work, and their dependents, receive modest monthly payments from Social Security. An additional one million workers are waiting for a hearing on disputed disability cases, with an average wait time of more than 500 days, according to The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

“It’s terribly unfair to make workers wait more than a year to find out if they eligible for disability,” said Association of Administrative Law Judges President Marilyn Zahm. “Our members are under tremendous pressure to clear this backlog – but it’s also unfair to rush through cases and not give every claimant the attention he or she deserves. We need more hands on deck.” Zahm is an administrative law judge for the Social Security Administration’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review in Buffalo, New York.

Although Congress has appropriated funds to hire more judges to address the mounting backlog of disability cases, budget gridlock on Capitol Hill has led SSA to impose a hiring freeze in 2017. Without more ALJs to hear cases, workers will face longer wait times as judges retire or leave for other employment and are not replaced. Each judge also is supported by two to four staff who organize evidence and assist in writing decisions. The hiring freeze extends to those workers as well.

The disability backlog will be on the agenda this week when AALJ members meet in San Diego. Jurists also will discuss the opioid crisis, intelligence testing, disability issues affecting military veterans, and other topics covering the latest research and trends in determination of disability benefits.

The conference will offer a window into a largely hidden judicial system. Nearly all working Americans pay into Social Security and are eligible for disability payments, but hearings on disputed claims are not open to the press or public. Judges also are generally barred from speaking to the press, although there is an exception for judges speaking in their capacity as representatives of the judges’ association.

Close to 300 jurists have registered for the AALJ San Diego conference.

The Association of Administrative Law Judges (AALJ) was founded as a professional association in 1971 to promote knowledge and collegiality among judges. Today the organization represents the approximately 1,500 judges who handle Social Security Disability claims. AALJ provides training and education programs for judges, serves as an advocate for judges and represents the issues of judges before Congress. A recognized federal employees union, AALJ bargains on behalf of its members with the Social Security Administration. AALJ is an affiliate of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers and the AFL-CIO.

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Reply Federal Judges Meeting in San Diego Say 500-Day Wait for SSA Disability Hearings Will Get Longer... (Original post)
Omaha Steve Oct 2016 OP
elleng Oct 2016 #1

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