Many potential clients I speak with daily are shocked to learn that the average wait time for a disability decision with the Social Security Administration is two years. Yes, you heard me correctly – two years. Why is that? First, most applications are denied. Second, the time period for a decision on the initial application is five months. An appeal to the next level of review (reconsideration) is three to five months. The next level of review – and where your best chance of a favorable decision exists — is the hearing level. The current approval rate in Georgia at the hearing level is 48%.
But wait times for a hearing are currently over a year. Here are the official wait times for a hearing in Georgia: Atlanta Downtown Hearing Office – 20 months; Atlanta North Hearing Office – 18 months; Covington – 18 months; Macon – 16 months; Savannah – 17 months.
From a 2017 CBS News report, there were 1.1 million applicants waiting on a hearing before an administrative law judge. That is a 31 percent increase from 2012. However, the agency’s annual budget is the same as it was in 2011. Five years ago the hearing wait times were less than a year. “No search for efficiencies, reprioritization of tasks or technological improvements can substitute for adequate resources,” said Lisa Ekman of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives.