What is behind long wait times for SSD hearings in NYC?

On Behalf of | Aug 14, 2018 | Social Security Disability Insurance

When a person is knocked out of the workforce by a disability, he or she can be dealing with a lot of financial stress. So, the last thing he or she may want to face when pursuing the monetary relief of Social Security disability benefits is a significant delay. Unfortunately, this is exactly what many Social Security disability applicants here in the New York City area face.

Specifically, there are currently very long waiting times for getting a hearing with a Social Security judge at two of the area’s hearing offices. Such a hearing is one of the steps applicants can end up going through after having their application for benefits initially denied.

Just how long are people having to wait for such hearings? Well, the average wait time for the Manhattan hearing office is over two years. Things are a little better for the Queens hearing office, but not by much. The average wait is 22 months at that office. These are among the longer wait times in the nation.

An audit looked at what things were contributing to long wait times in New York. It pointed to the following as factors in these delays:

  • Low morale among staff
  • Insufficient staffing
  • Telecommuting by staff

This last one might strike some as surprising. Basically, the finding was that telecommuting may be leading to a high number of Social Security workers spending a fair amount of time working away from the office, which could potentially slow down the pace of being able to take on hearings.

Things the state’s Social Security offices reportedly are turning to to try to combat the delays include increased hiring and video hearings with judges from other regions. One wonders how successful such efforts will prove at cutting wait times down.

As the audit illustrates, there are many things that can lead to significant delays in getting an SSD-related hearing that are outside of an applicant’s control. However, there are things individuals can do on their end to try to avoid introducing complications that could add to the delays. This includes taking proper steps to prepare when waiting for a hearing. Social Security disability attorneys can assist applicants with such preparations.