Pillars of Justice

Why does it take so long to get Social Security Disability Benefits?



Answer: There are a lot of people waiting just like you are.


The National Organization of Social Security Representatives just released case numbers for all of the hearing offices in the country as of June 2019. The three in our region are listed below:


Atlanta Downtown** :


  • 7,539 cases pending

  • Average processing time 579 days

  • 1.89 dispositions per day per ALJ

  • Total hearings 4,077


Atlanta North:


  • 4,567 cases pending

  • Processing time is 463 days

  • 1.96 dispositions per day per ALJ

  • Total hearings 2,606


Covington, GA:


  • 3,980 cases pending

  • Processing time is 514 days

  • 2.25 dispositions per day per ALJ

  • Total hearings 2,314


**Atlanta Downtown is #2 in the country for most cases pending. Only Jacksonville, Florida has more, with 7,547 cases pending.


These numbers only reflect the people who are waiting for a hearing and have already been denied at the initial and reconsideration level. Currently, going through the initial and reconsideration levels can take up to a year.


What do these numbers mean?


Let’s say you live in Gainesville, Georgia - Atlanta North hears claims for most of northern Georgia and will conduct your hearing. Assuming you have already been denied twice, appealed both times, and are now waiting for a hearing, you have just gotten in line with 4,564 people ahead of you. Although the judges are deciding cases at a rate of almost two per day, you are likely going to have to wait 463 days (or 12-18 months) until it is your turn.


While this is very frustrating, remember that it is equally frustrating for everyone else who is in line with you. The hearing offices are working their way through as many claims as they can, as quickly as they can. Just as you would want a full and fair hearing, so does everyone else who is waiting. You want to make sure that your claim is fully reviewed and considered. Those reviews take time.


However, there are dire need circumstances that can allow someone to move ahead in the line. Sometimes those circumstances can include imminent homelessness, inability to access any medical care whatsoever, and other serious issues. Keep in mind that social security does not always grant these requests as you are asking to cut in line, but in some circumstances being heard quickly is warranted and we can help!


If you have a claim pending before the administration and would like assistance with your claim, please contact our office!