What is The Wait Time for a Hearing Where I Live?
HEARINGS HELD BY TELEPHONE DUE TO COVID-19
Due to Covid-19, the Social Security Administration is holding hearings by telephone. This means a claimant may stay home and have a hearing on the telephone.
If the Claimant is represented, the attorney or non-attorney representative may participate in the hearing by phone from a location separate from the claimant.
In some cities, after a request for hearing is submitted, the hearing may be scheduled in less time than before Covid-19.
However, the time a claim takes to reach the hearing level, if the claim is not awarded at the Initial or Reconsideration levels, may be longer than before Covid-19.
Claims at the Initial and Reconsideration levels are reviewed by the Disability Determination Service (DDS). This is a state agency which is contracted by the Social Security Administration to obtain and review medical records, as well as non-medical forms claimants must complete. Processing of Social Security disability claims by the Disability Determination Service is slower than it was prior to Covid-19.
In Baltimore, Maryland, for example, prior to Covid-19, a claim at the Initial level of the application process might have been decided within 120 days. If the claim were denied at the Initial level of the application process, and if an Appeal (Request for Reconsideration) were filed, the claim at the Reconsideration level, prior to Covid-19, may have also been decided within 120 more days. If the claim were again denied, and if an Appeal (Request for Hearing) were filed, a hearing may have been scheduled in Baltimore, Maryland, 16-24 months later.
However, with Covid-19 effecting claim processing times, a claim could remain at the Initial level nine to 12 months.
Similarly, with Covid-19, a claim could remain at the Reconsideration level of the application process nine to 12 months.
In Baltimore, Maryland a claim at the hearing level, in which a claimant agrees to participate in a telephone hearing, may now be scheduled significantly sooner than prior to Covid-19.
During Covid-19, our office in Baltimore, Maryland has had a hearing scheduled as soon as three months after submitting a request for a hearing.