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How Long Does Social Security Process Take?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions of a Social Security attorney and one of the biggest complaints filed with the Social Security Administration. The Social Security Administration has worked very diligently over the past several years and have reduced the waiting times substantially. Although we have all heard the horror stories of Social Security cases taking many years to adjudicate, during fiscal year 2010, the average processing time to get a case from the filing of the Request for Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge was 426 days. (This number does vary depending on your particular Office of Disability Adjudication and Review.) However, in seven years, the number has greatly increased. For example, in May 2017, Montgomery, AL took 549 days to get a case to a hearing before a judge once the appeal was filed, Mobile, AL took 583 days, and Birmingham took 624 days. The Alabama average and the national average is 582 days. We believe this to be a ridiculous wait time! Most people are in desperate need for their money and benefits, and we do all we can to shorten this time period! Also, these statistics are for regular Social Security claims for benefits and do not include cases that are classified as Compassionate Allowance or TERI. The Social Security Administration has issued multiple statements as to their commitment to continue to reduce waiting times. We have found that wait times have gradually increased over the years; however, our Montgomery Social Security lawyers have found ways to occasionally shorten the wait period by asking for a ruling on the record or asking for a compassionate allowance.

We all know that Social Security is a federal program, and as such, the process should be the same no matter where you are in the country. However, wait times vary depending on where you are. Administrative Law Judges are assigned to a particular ODAR and the number of Administrative Law Judges at each ODAR is dependent on the number of cases filed and/or pending at that particular office. The amount of staff at each ODAR is directly related to the number of judges assigned to that particular office. Therefore, the number of judges or the number of staff members at a particular office should not dictate the amount of time it takes for a case to be adjudicated. The theory is that the waiting time at an ODAR is based primarily on organizational skills and the efficiency of both the staff and the judges. Unfortunately for a person seeking Social Security benefits, you do not get to decide which ODAR you use and you probably are not aware of the current wait times.

The only way to know for sure what the current average wait time is for your local ODAR is to ask a Montgomery Social Security lawyer who deals with your particular ODAR on a regular basis. Anyone can read the published statistics of a particular office; but only a local, experienced Social Security lawyer can know exactly how long cases are taking at a particular office.

Once a hearing is held, a decision will be issued. Although Social Security strives to get the written decision out within 30 days, the amount of time it takes to receive the decision is dependent on the Administrative Law Judge, the decision writers, and other factors. Montgomery Social Security lawyers typically tell their clients to not be surprised if it takes 60-90 days to receive a final decision, depending on your ODAR, the judge to whom your case is assigned, and whether any post-hearing development is warranted. Generally, we have been successful is getting our clients a decision in less than 60 days.

The disability attorneys at The Sellers Law Firm are here to help you! We have always been asked, “Why don’t you have an office near me?” We believe that we answered the “near me” question by creating offices in Montgomery, Selma, Greenville, and Troy! Call today and set an appointment to meet our team and here our plan to help you. Consultations with us are always free! You may call us at 334-LAWYERS (529-9377). You may also use the “text us” link or Contact Form on our website. Remember that doing nothing, changes nothing so act today!

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Brandon was my first choice for an attorney because he is part of the community and you see him at the local store or PTA meetings and he always has time for you and answer your concerns. Ronica Phifer
The Sellers Law Firm represented me in my social security case, and later in my Chapter 7 bankruptcy. I have been very happy with all that you have done for me, and I refer people to you all the time. Thanks for all that you have done for me and my family. Angie Langford
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