February 12, 2019

More Than 800,000 Waiting for Social Security Disability Hearings, Wait Times Are Declining But Still Average 18 Months

Allsup reports 50-state ranking of pending disability hearings and importance of a disability representative for the Social Security disability appeals process

Belleville, IL. — February 12, 2019 — The national average wait time for a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits hearing is 538 days, according to Allsup, which has released its latest state-by-state ranking of the hearing backlog. Allsup is the nation’s premier disability representation company.

At year-end, 801,428 people were waiting for a hearing to determine whether they would be awarded their benefits. Overall, the national average wait time has decreased 67 days from an all-time high of 605 days in 2017. The decrease in hearing processing times is due partly to funding received by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 2018, aimed at tackling the disability hearing backlog.

The highest wait times still top 600 and 700 days in many cities, including 724 days in Long Beach, California; 706 days in New York City; 690 days in Greensboro, North Carolina; 689 days in Phoenix (North); and 684 days in Fresno, California.

The majority of individuals—78 percent—at the hearing level used the assistance of a disability representative. In comparison, only 17.7 percent have a representative at the initial application level. Most of those waiting were denied benefits twice before reaching the hearing level, adding almost 215 days on average to their wait.

“Although the SSA is moving people through the process, we are still seeing unacceptably long wait times for people who have paid into these benefits,” said Mike Stein, assistant vice president at Allsup. “One way to possibly avoid the long line for a hearing is to ensure you are eligible when you first apply and that you have the assistance of an experienced representative.”

Of particular concern, said Stein, is the even longer wait time for those whose cases were moved to National Hearing Centers (NHCs) (where most hearings are conducted via video). The waits are substantially longer, with an average 672 days—134 days longer than the national average. The wait time at the Chicago NHC is now the second highest in the nation, at 802 days.

Allsup has helped more than 300,000 people to receive their SSDI benefits. The online tool empower by Allsup® combines an SSDI assessment for eligibility and Social Security disability application support, along with return to work guidance for those who may medically recover. Allsup has a 53 percent success rate at the application level, compared to the national average of 34 percent.

Find more information about a better way to apply for disability benefits or returning to work with a disability, visit TrueHelp.com.


Download the State-by-State Hearing Backlog for January 2019

Written by

Aaron Speropoulos