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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