SSA has made progress in reducing initial disability claims pending and backlogged CDRs. Specifically, initial disability claims pending decreased from over 759,000 in FY 2011 to almost 575,000 as of May 2019. Further, in FY 2018, SSA eliminated the backlog of full medical CDRs that had existed since FY 2002. However, the average processing time for a hearing increased 65 percent from 360 days in FY 2011 to 595 days in FY 2018. Moreover, during the same period, pending hearings increased 11 percent from 771,318 to 858,383. However, the number of pending cases has decreased from over 1.1 million at the end of FY 2016 to 665,774 as of May 2019 while average processing time has decreased to 520 days. OHO has updated its Compassionate And REsponsive Service (CARES) plan, which outlines initiatives to address the growing number of pending hearings and increasing wait times. Initially, the CARES plan included an average processing time goal of 270 days for hearings by the end of FY 2020. However, OHO now expects to reach the goal by 2021. OHO has reduced the 27 initial CARES initiatives to 12 as it completes initiatives and identifies new ones. The current initiatives relate to (1) Business Process Efficiencies, (2) IT Innovations and Investments, and (3) Accountability and Oversight Focus—a new initiative for 2019.
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