Characteristics of Claimants in the Social Security Administration’s Pending Hearings Backlog

Thursday, September 29, 2016
Report Number: 
Report Type: 
Audit Report
Office Affiliation: 

We are issuing this report to provide information on the volume and age of pending hearing cases, the characteristics of the claimants awaiting a decision, and the status of pending cases.

The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) administers the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) hearings and appeals program. Individuals who are dissatisfied with the Agency’s reconsideration decision (or, after the initial decision, in those States where there is no reconsideration step) have the right to request a hearing.

SSA’s pending hearings workload has increased 58 percent since Fiscal Year (FY) 2010. As of March 2016, about 1.1 million claimants were awaiting a hearing decision, and the average processing time for a claim was about 518 days.

In January 2016, SSA developed the Compassionate And REsponsive Service (CARES) plan to address this backlog and reduce average processing time to 270 days by 2020. The CARES plan calls for additional administrative law judges (ALJ) to be hired and contains numerous initiatives to address ODAR workloads.