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WAITING TIME FOR A HEARING HITS 20 MONTHS IN NORTH ALABAMA!

Claimants must now wait 20 months to get a disability hearing in North Alabama!  

Last month I was telling my clients it would take about 18 months to get a hearing.  Now, it's taking 20 months.

One year ago, I was telling clients it would take about 15 months to get a hearing.  They are further behind now than then.

Back in 2012, I was telling clients it would take 12 months to get a hearing - and I thought that was bad.

The average processing time in the Florence, AL hearing office (responsible for most hearings in north Alabama) - is 574 days.

 As time goes along, it is taking longer and longer and longer to get a hearing.  

There are about 4,930 appeals pending in the north Alabama (Florence) Office of Hearing Operations.  That office has 7 administrative law judges.  The average judge disposes of 2 cases per day.  This office is not particularly slower than most.  The average waiting time in Alabama is 18.5 months.

Assuming that it takes about 4 months to get a decision on the initial application, then 20 or more months for the appeal-- this makes it at least 24 months for most claimants to get a claim resolved.  Add another 1 to 3 months for payment processing, assuming there is a favorable decision at the hearing.

Can your representative do anything to get you a hearing sooner?  Unfortunately, no.  Hearings are assigned based on the date the appeal was filed.  Claimants, whether represented or not, are not allowed to "cut line" and move ahead of other claimants.  Everyone has to wait in line. 

Any relief insight?  No.  Everyone I talk to seems to believe the problem will get worse, not better.  Problems include lack of funding, availability of staff, hiring freezes and the usual government inability to problem solve.  "A dinosaur with a fire under its tail..."

 

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