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Disability Chartbook


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X. Processing Times

Contents:
Chart 1: Average Initial Claim Processing Time (FY 1991-2012)
Chart 2: DI and SSI Applications Pending in State Agencies at End of Year (FY 1989-2012)
Chart 3: Average Hearing Level Processing Time (FY 1990-2014)
Chart 4: Cases Pending in Hearing Offices at End of Year (FY 1990-2014)
Chart 5: Appeals Council Processing Times (FY 1993-2014)

 
Charts

Chart 1: Average Initial Claim Processing Time (FY 1991-2012)


Last Updated February 2015

 

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Processing time shown is the time from the date of the application to the date the award or denial notice is generated.  It includes field office, processing center and State agency time.  (Data on processing times is not available prior to 1991.)

 

Chart 2: DI and SSI Applications Pending in State Agencies at End of Year (FY 1989-2012)

Last Updated February 2015

 

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The number of claims pending at State agencies soared between 1989 and 1992, largely due to a recession, the Supreme Court’s Zebley decision that liberalized the definition of eligibility for children, and changes in SSA’s regulations for determining whether an individual has a disabling mental impairment.  Although the pending workload declined briefly in the mid-1990s, it began to grow again in the late 1990s.  The spike in the pending workload in 2009 and 2010 reflects the increase in initial claims due to economic conditions.

 

Chart 3: Average Hearing Level Processing Time (FY 1990-2014)

Last Updated June 2015

 

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Average hearing office processing times for Social Security and SSI cases (nearly all of which are disability cases) soared in the mid-1990s, as the initial claims filed in the early 1990s made their way through the system.  After falling to 274 days in 2000, processing times rose every year before beginning to fall again in 2009.  The increase in processing times roughly corresponds to increases in the number of hearing receipts since 2001.  In 2013, processing times began to increase again. 

 

Chart 4: Cases Pending in Hearing Offices at End of Year (FY 1990-2014)

Last Updated June 2015

 

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Mirroring the increase in processing times, the size of the pending workload in hearing offices rose steadily from 2000 through 2008 before falling in 2009 and 2010, but began to rise again after 2010. Both processing times and pending levels are substantially higher than they were in the mid-1990s and before.

 

Chart 5: Appeals Council Processing Times (FY 1993-2014)

Last Updated June 2015

 

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Appeals Council processing times have varied greatly over the years, increasing from 150 days in 1993 to close to 500 days by 2000, before falling back down to around 200 days in 2006.  In 2012, average processing time at the Appeals Council level was 395 days, its highest level since 2003. In 2014, the average processing time was 374 days (Data on processing times is not available prior to 1993).