An article appeared in the St. Petersburg Times announced Castor's bill. The article has some sobering statistics about the state of affairs at Social Security, particularly in the Tampa Office of Disability Adjudication & Review (ODAR) where our firm represents many Social Security Disability clients.
Some stats from the article:
In the Tampa office, where cases for Florida's west coast are heard, the backlog represents about 966 per judge.
Average wait for a hearing, as of June 27, 2008:
Nationally: 510 days
Tampa: 681 days
Miami: 618 days
Jacksonville: 540 days
Orlando: 444 days
Fort Lauderdale: 369 days
Cases waiting for hearings
Fort Lauderdale: 3,453
Source: Social Security AdministrationThe Administrative Law Judges that handle these cases (at the 2nd level of appeal after an initial denial) do tons of work in the Tampa office. These cases are very paper intensive and require a lot of time reviewing medical and vocational records. It does not take a genius to realize that if they had the funding for more Judges, the ODAR could move the cases through faster. The ALJ's need some help. The backlog will not go down unless they get more Judges and staff to hear cases.
Hats off to Representative Castor. On behalf of all of my clients and others waiting for a hearing, thank you. Here is a copy of her bill:
Timely Due Process for the Disabled Act of 2008 (Introduced in House)
HR 6485 IH
July 14, 2008
Ms. CASTOR introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means
- Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
- This Act may be cited as the `Timely Due Process for the Disabled Act of 2008'.
SEC. 2. ESTABLISHMENT OF TIME FRAMES TO ENSURE TIMELY DISABILITY DETERMINATIONS.
- (a) In General- Section 221(d) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 421(d)) is amended--
- (1) by inserting `(1)' after `(d)'; and
- (2) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
- `(2) The Commissioner of Social Security shall ensure that--
- `(A) the scheduling of the date for the hearing described in paragraph (1) occurs before the end of the period of 5 business days after the date of the request for the hearing;
- `(B) the date scheduled for the hearing is during the period of 15 business days after the period of 60 business days after the date of the request; and
- `(C) any disability determination on the basis of the hearing is issued before the end of the period of 15 business days after the date on which the hearing is concluded.'.
- (b) Effective Date-
- (1) IN GENERAL- The amendments made by this section shall apply with respect to hearings under section 221(d) of the Social Security Act commenced on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.
- (2) HEARINGS REQUESTED PRIOR TO DATE OF ENACTMENT- In the case of any hearing described in paragraph (1) which was requested prior to the date of the enactment of this Act--
- (A) the requirements of subparagraph (A) of section 221(d)(2) of such Act (as added by subsection (a)) shall apply as if the date of the request for the hearing is the date of the enactment of this Act; and
- (B) the requirements of subparagraph (B) of such section 221(d)(2) shall be treated as met if the date scheduled for the hearing is during the period of 15 business days following the later of the last day of the period of 60 business days referred to in such subparagraph or the date of the enactment of this Act.
SEC. 3. MONITORING OF DISABILITY DETERMINATIONS IN RECONSIDERATION.
- Section 221 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 421) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
- `(n) The Commissioner of Social Security shall establish and maintain a program under which--
- `(1) there is established a target number for disability determinations under this section which are in reconsideration at the end of each year, and
- `(2) progress toward attaining that target is regularly monitored and assessed during the year.'.