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SSA Unveils Plan to Unclog Hearing Backlog

At the beginning of the 2007 Fiscal Year, there are more than 63,000 pending requests for hearings that were at least 1,000 days old.  By the end of that year, the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) had whittled that number down to 108. 

While this effort is laudable, there is still more wokr to be done.  The next step of the plan is to reduce the number of hearing requests at are at least 900 days old.  There are over 135,000 such requests, which have been pending for nearly 3 years.  That number represents 18.1% of the total cases before the ODAR.

The plan to continue to expedite these cases is three-fold and should eventually trickle down to make the entire process much faster

First, the agency plans to improve hearing office procedures by reducing the nubmer of aged cases and allowing senior attorneys to make initial adjudicatory decisions.

Second, the agency will increase adjudicatory capacity by filling the Administrative Law Judge's dockets to capacity.  The plan also involves the hiring of more Administrative Law Judges and improving their productivity.

The final step in the plan is to increase the agency's efficiency by automating some of the processes.  By using electronic files, the agency hopes to streamline the hearing process.