Why is it taking so long for me to get an ALJ hearing for SSDI?

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2023 | SSDDI Physical Impairments, SSDI Appeals

Not being able to work full-time due to a degenerative health condition is so frustrating. We apply for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), but the whole process is so slow, it is only exasperating our ability to support ourselves financially and afford the medical care we need.

Sadly, after months of waiting, our initial application for SSDI is denied. We appeal, but that appeal takes months as well, and it is also denied.

The next step in the appeals process is a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). But it is taking forever for this appeal to go through. Why is it so hard just to get a simple hearing?

Let’s break down the numbers

Requesting a hearing with an ALJ is the second step in the appeal process. After we are denied at reconsideration, we have 60 days to ask for a hearing with an ALJ. Once we file for a hearing, it can take a year or more to get that hearing.

SSA data reports that as of October of 2022, on average, a person ends up waiting 13 months for a hearing from the date their claim for SSDI was filed.

Things are especially bad for those in the Philadelphia east region. As of January of 2023, the average wait time from the time the hearing was requested until the hearing was held was 19 months.

Unfortunately, we are not alone in our plight. As of the end of the 2022 fiscal year, there was a backlog of almost 340,000 applicants waiting for a hearing with an ALJ. In the last few years, we have had the choice of attending a hearing in person or remotely.

What can we do in the meantime?

There are some steps we can take while we are waiting for our hearing. We can continue submitting evidence about our medical condition. Not only does this include submitting medical records but it also includes submitting information about the medications we take, including dosages and any side effects we experience.

We can keep a journal of what we are able to do on a day-by-day basis, and how we feel physically when performing common tasks. We can document what was expected of us physically and mentally at our previous jobs.

Perhaps most importantly, we can consult with our attorney. This can help ensure that we are prepared for our hearing when it finally happens.

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