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Unreasonable delays at DAS and DDS initial and reconsideration levels

WHY DOES THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION’S (SSA) DISABILITY ADJUDICATION SERVICES (DAS) NOT USE THE DATE OF FILING OF AN APPLICATON OR RECONSIDERATION APPEAL TO DETERMINE WHEN THE SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY CASE IS ASSIGNED TO AN ADJUDICATOR? Pre-Covid-19, initial or reconsideration decisions were made much faster by the SSA’s DAS in Georgia (DDS in other states). DAS took approximately 3-6 months to make a decision at the initial or reconsideration levels before the pandemic. Now, a social security disability claimant may wait 1-2 yrs for a decision. https://gvs.georgia.gov/social-security-services/disability-adjudication-services-information

On February 24, 2023, SSA released data revealing that the average processing time nationwide
is 211 days at the initial level and 210.1 days at the reconsideration level. According to NOSSCR,  there  has been a 35 percent increase in processing times at DAS and DDS since 2021 when the  national  average processing times were 156 days for initial claims and 158 for reconsideration  claims.  Click  this link for the average processing times at the initial level since 2008.
http://www.ssa.gov/open/data/Combined-Disability-Processing-Time.html    Click this link for the average processing times at the reconsideration level since 2014. https://www.ssa.gov/open/data/disability_reconsideration_average_processing           _time.html#datasetDescription

In Georgia, if you call the DAS status line, you will be told that there is an @ 8–12 month delay from the time your social security disability case arrives at DAS before your case is even assigned to an Adjudicator to request medical records. Also, once the case is assigned to an Adjudicator, any consultative psychological or physical examinations with a SSA contracted psychologist or physician will add to your case processing time. https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/greenbook/ce-adult.htm

The Law Office of Kathleen M Flynn, LLC has tried to explain the unreasonable delays to frustrated clients who have filed SSI, DAC, Widow’s/Widower’s and SSDI, also called DIB applications and requests for reconsiderations.  Our disability attorneys and staff have asked clients to reach out to their Congresspersons to alert them to delays.

What is adding to the delay is the time the Social Security District Office, also called Field Offices, take to process a SSI or SSDI/Dib application or request for reconsideration appeal. If your case sits 6 months, for example, at a Social Security Disability District Office then arrives at DAS, you will have waited at least 18 months before your social security disability case is even assigned to an Adjudicator to be worked up. https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/ic001.action?zipCodeSearched=33431#officeResults DAS, sometimes, sends your case to an out of state DDS office to work up your file due to lack of staff at a particular GA office.

The Office of Hearings Operations(OHO) uses the date the request for hearing is filed for determining how fast the disability hearing is scheduled. In other words, a  social security disability claimant waits in line behind others who filed their appeals for hearings earlier. However, for reasons that are unknown, DAS does not use the date the claimant files an application or request for reconsideration for determining how fast the social security disability case should move through the adjudication process. DAS uses the date the social security disability case arrives at their offices. So, if your social security disability case sits at a Social Security Disability office for months unprocessed by an employee there, you will end up waiting longer for a decision.

At the end of 2022, the Washington Post wrote an article about the exceedingly long delays nationwide at the SSA’s initial and reconsideration levels. Our Legal Assistant, Melanie Kohut, was quoted in the article. www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/12/05/social-security-disability-benefit-offices-backlog-breaking-point Later in 2023, the National Organization of Social Security Representatives’ “Interim CEO, David Camp, testified before the Ways & Means Committee about the impact of and potential solutions to unacceptably long processing times for disability claims at SSA. www.nosscr.org. Tragically, on September 29, 2023, a 57 year old homeless client told us that he did not have long to live and would be dead before he received his social security disability benefits. He was only 110 pounds and cancer was spreading throughout his body.

Over the course of 2 months, three clients, who have filed an application or reconsideration appeal for social security disability benefits, have died before a decision was rendered by DAS. In the most recent example, the homeless gentleman was hospitalized on September 23, 2023 after staying at the Atlanta Recovery Center. Our disability law firm filed a SSI and DIB, also called SSDI Application, in April 2022. The case was flagged homeless and was supposed to be adjudicated faster due to his indigent status. On October 3, 2023, the dying homeless client asked to speak to the Adjudicator, but two voicemails had to be left as she was unavailable. On October 4, 2023, the client, at our disability law firm’s request, obtained a letter/medical record from the hospital physician that was provided to the Adjudicator detailing how he had duodenal cancer and ascites. The physician recommended that he enter hospice. On October 26, 2023, the client died, and the case is stilling pending at DAS. Since this client had not worked recently enough to be insured, his SSI claim passed with him.

Our social security disability law firm can assist you or your child with filing a SSI or SSDI (DIB) application, request for reconsideration, request for hearing, request for review before the Appeals Council or a US District Court case. We also file appeals for service connected disability veterans benefits. Please visit our website at www.kathleenflynnlaw.com/we-care or call our disability lawyers and staff at 404-479-4431. #SSIappeal #SSDIappeal, #requestforreconsideration #DAS #DDS #SSA #ssdi #ssiattorneys #ssilawyers #childssi #childdac #veteransbenefits #socialsecuritydisability #ssdi #ssi #disability #disabilities #socialsecuritydisabilityattorney  #disabilitylawyer  #ssiattorneys  #ssilawyers  #ssdilawyer #ssdiattorneys  #disabilitywidowerbenefits  #disabilitylawyer #socialsecuritydisabilitylawyer #disabilityadjudicationservices  #DDS #ssa #DAS #requestforreconsideration 

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