The latest processing times for Social Security disability cases have hit new all-time highs. The average lengths of time up to May of 2008 for Social Security disability claimants to get a hearing after a hearing is requested, has been received from the Social Security Administration throughthe Freedom of Information Act. The average length of processing times for 141 hearing offices is 16.8 months. Long delays in processing cases is the number one complaint leveled by patient-claimants against the Social Security Administration. Despite former commissioner Jo Anne Barnhart's pledge to speed up processing times with the use of electronic technology, they have in fact lengthened to an all-time high. However, the conversion is not completed, and is still in process.
In 2008, only one of the 141 hearing offices met the Administration's goal of 250 days (8.3 months) from the time one asks for a hearing to the time one gets a hearing-Stockton, CA.
Offices taking between 10 and 11 months are Hartford, Providence, Charleston, WV, and Dover.
Processing times between 11 and 12 months were achieved by Boston, Huntington, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles Downtown and West, and Orange.
Those hearing offices achieving average processing times between 12 and 13 months are New Haven, CT, Portland, ME, Queens, San Juan, Johnstown, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Kingsport, TN, Billings, Pasadena, San Bernadino, San Francisco, San Rafael, Santa Barbara, and Tucson.
The slowest processing time was 2 years, 4 months, for Columbus, OH. Other worst offenders are Oak Brook (29 months), Lansing (27.3 months), Greenville, NC (27 months), Indianapolis (26 months), Cleveland (25 months), Dayton (25 months), Flint (24.6 months), Peoria (24.2 months), Oak Park (24 months), Evansville (24 months), and Madison (23.4 months).
The Social Security Administration has set a goal of eliminating all pending hearing requests that are 900 days old or more. Last year, the Administration set a goal of eliminating all cases that were 1,000 days old or older, which was successful. At the beginning of fiscal year 2008, which began in October of 2007, there were 134,000claims that were 900 days old or older. By the end of May, the number had been whittled down to 28,000. As of now, no goal has been set for 2009.
Additionally, SSA's Office of Quality Assurance is identifying cases which should have been allowed before being appealed to the hearing level. 8,700 of these cases were found in FY 2007. The office is hoping to find 17,000 of these types of cases this year. States being targeted are those with the greatest number of paper (non-electronic) cases, which include New York, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Indiana, and Ohio.
SSA has also ushered in 135 Administrative Law Judges and plans to hire 50 more. Representative Kathy Castor (D-FL) introduced a bill in July which would require SSA to issue a hearing decision within 90 days after asking for a hearing. Her district includes Tampa, FL, which has one of the longest processing times with 21.6 months. The "Timely Due Process for the Disabled Act of 2008," H.R. 5485, would require that the claimant would receive notice of a hearing within 5 business days after the request for a hearing is filed, that the hearing would be held within 75 days after the request for a hearing is filed, and that the ALJ would issue a decision within 15 business days after the hearing.In the meantime, while SSA is paring down the backlog, there are 4 conditions which should put a case closer to the front of the line. They are::
1) The patient is terminally ill;
2) The patient is without, or is unable to obtain food, medicine, or shelter, or;
3) There is an indication that the patient is homicidal or suicidal;
4) The case has been delayed an inordinate amount of time, longer than the average processing time.
The patient-claimant should address his or her circumstances to the Chief Administrative Law Judge via certified mail. After sending, a follow-up call should be made to find out whether the change of status has been made. If not, you should mention your mailing date and the date of receipt, as well as the your reasons for requesting the change in status.
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Record 100 Dystonia Cases Won; No Losses
On December 12th, Frederick A. Johnson, President of Disability Income Associates for 23 years, won his one hundredth dystonia case. He has never lost a dystonia case. I gladly write you a check today for our fully favorable SSDI win.
He is expert advisor to the American Dystonia Society, providing immediate answers to questions about Social Security disability programs and procedures to its 500 plus members. The American Dystonia Society is dedicated to research as a non-profit organization, and established in 2009. http://dystonia.ning.com/main/authorization/signUp?
Johnson has spoken on 3 occasions at the National Spasmodic Torticollis Association, a cervical dystonia patient support organization headquartered in Fountain Valley, CA.
Since 1990, Johnson has represented over 1,000 patients who were not able to work because of the severity of their medical problems.
He is author of "How To Apply For & Win Social Security Disability Benefits," and created specialized proprietary residual functional capacity forms for every major condition. The forms integrate the symptoms Social Security looks for in making its awards with the most basic legal standards.
Johnson was a member of the medical corps in the Navy, working in the ICU, emergency room, recovery room, and surgical wards at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, MD. Additionally, he was a medical worker in the private sector for 2 years.
Cervical dystonia, also called spasmodic torticollis, or torticollis, is the most common of the focal dystonias. In torticollis, the muscles in the neck which control the position of the head are affected, causing the head to involuntarily twist and turn to one side. In addition, the head may be pulled forward or backward. Though of different etiology, dystonia is treated in the same ways as Parkinson's. Neurologists, however, frequently misdiagnose the condition. A gene has recently been found for dystonia; however, there is strong evidence to show that it can be originated by trauma.
Dystonia can effect other body parts or the entire body. It can be constant or episodic and sporadic. It is usually treated with botox injections at 3 month intervals.
Four long years and NC didn't do anything quickly or easy, but you stayed the course, kept me informed and most important-were my champion. I never spoke to anyone at SSA because you were on the front line for me.
I am proof positive that you can win your benefits with a skilled professional by your side. Dystonians rejoice for Fred Johnson!
D.Brinkley Snead Ferry, NC
Thank you for the untiring support given to me in obtaining my Social Security Disability claim. I would not have been able to do all the hard work that you have put into this case. You will be greatly rewarded for the work you do for Disabled population. I will keep you always in my prayers. Again, thank you.!!!
Randallstown, MD 21132
I want to take this opportunity to personally thank you for successfully navigating us to a favorable decision with regard to my case. If one ever has any concern or doubt about hiring a representative over an attorney, I can assure them that this notion can be set to rest. You very capably guided me through a maze of obstacles designed to confuse and bewilder even the well educated.
Because Spasmodic Torticolllis is considered somewhat of a rare disorder and is not listed on the Department of Social Security's "listing of impairments:, it created a challenge, but it was one you were more than able to handle. Everything happened as you predicted with respect to the denials, but it was your expertise and perseverance that prevailed somewhere between the reconsideration denial and the hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, which was very unusual. You spared me the great anxiety and further depletion of my savings by cutting through the labyrinthine bureaucracy at the hearing level and winning benefits without have to go to a hearing. Needless to say, I am very pleased and would highly recommend you to anyone who may be considering you as their representative.
Not only were you always available to answer my questions and concerns on a professional level, but equally as important, was the way in which you took this case on personally. I really admired the way you actually fought for me. Your heart was in it and I could tell. You know the system so very well Fred, and people who attempt to take on this giant on their own are at a tremendous disadvantage from the beginning.
If your assistance will help level the playing field and helps them decide on the proper representation they truly need, then it is my honor and pleasure to be of service to you.
Thank you so much!
G. Beaubien, Jr.
I gladly write you a check today for our fully favorable SSDI win.
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- Listings Of Impairments: Overview
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