A newspaper in Oregon recently had a great article about Social Security Disability backlogs. The Oregonian submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Social Security Administration and interviewed several Administrative Law Judges to try to understand why it takes a claimant 650 days to get a Judge’s decision in Portland while the national average is 480 days. It should be noted that the frustration with backlogs is not particular to Portland, Oregon. Many of the same problems exist in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro. The article can be read here. Administrative Law Judges are supposed to decide 500 cases every year. According to statistics, only about 11% of the Judges hit this mark. The biggest problem, according to most of the Judges, is that there is insufficient staff to work up the cases. Each claimant has a file with the Social Security Administration that holds medical records, employment earnings records, and other documents that are necessary to determine whether the claimant qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits. It is extremely difficult for a Judge to make a decision when medical records are lacking or the file is a mess (an unorganized stack of several hundred documents is hard to make heads or tails of especially if you are asked to do it 500 times a year). Let’s hope the new Administration properly staffs the Hearing Offices.

This article was written by Chip Permar