When I became a disability lawyer in 2006, it was common for clients to wait three or even four years for a Social Security hearing. Cases lingered on for many years. During that time, clients typically had no income and no way to support themselves.
In recent years, the wait for a hearing has significantly decreased. This means that it takes most Social Security clients less time to win their case. As of right now, the Akron Social Security Hearing Office is taking far less time to take a case through hearing than at any time since I began practicing disability law. From start to finish, most disability cases in the Akron, Ohio area are taking under a year. It usually takes under six months to get through the first two stages, and then it is averaging less than five months between the time you request a hearing, and you get one. You must be denied twice before you can ask for a hearing. https://www.sgsdisability.com/answers/stages-of-a-disability-claim/. Most, but not all, clients have to go to a hearing in front of a judge to win benefits- this is especially true if you are under age 50.
In fact, the Akron Social Security Disability Office (OHO) is currently the best in the country when it comes to how fast they are able to give clients their hearing. This data is published at:
This is great news if you live in the Akron, Ohio area and need to apply for disability. Right now, is the best time to file for disability if you have no income to support yourself while the disability process plays out.
Having a lawyer involved in your case is one way to make sure that all the documents are properly being filed so that there are no delays in processing your case.
Why has the wait for a Social Security Disability hearing decreased so much? Just two ago years it averaged 16 months to get a hearing after one is was requested (plus the normal 6 months or so before you could ask for a hearing- see above). https://www.ssa.gov/appeals/DataSets/archive/01_FY2019/01_April_NetStat_Report.html.
I think the pandemic has something to do with it. Less people are applying for Social Security because of the relatively high federal unemployment benefits that are being offered. What many people do not know, is that there are many situations where you can get both Social Security and unemployment. During the pandemic, the Administrative Law Judges (the judges who hold these hearings) have been working from home and typically holding hearings by phone. In fact, almost all Social Security employees have primarily been working from home during the pandemic. Perhaps these individuals work quicker, are less distracted, and more efficient when working from home. Perhaps clients are more likely to attend a phone hearing rather than attend a hearing in person. If this is the case the judges would not have holes in their schedule and have less re-scheduled hearings to be concerned with.
I can’t say for sure why the wait for a hearing has decreased so much, but I do know that it is a good thing. Whatever the cause, Akron, Ohio Social Security Disability clients are benefitting from the shortened wait time for a hearing.
If you have recently been denied disability or are looking to apply for Social Security, please give us a call. We offer free consultations, and we only get paid if we help you win.