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After making progress in cutting the waiting time for Social Security Disability & SSI hearings, both nationally and here in Michigan, things now appear to be headed in the other direction again.
The addition a few years ago of new ODARs in Mt. Pleasant, Livonia and Toledo (Claimants in Monroe & Lenawee counties here in Michigan are sent to Toledo for hearing) helped reduce wait time in Michigan and a concerted effort on a national level also reduced waiting time.
The waiting time in Livonia, especially, was down to about 9 months after the Request for Hearing was filed. Now wait times are back up to over a year in Livonia, and rising. As of the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2014 there were nearly 1 million people waiting for hearings. At the end of 2010 there were a bit over 700,000 persons waiting for a hearing.
The delay is blamed on a reduction of “adjudicatory capacity” due to delays in the hiring of new Administrative Law Judges and a reduction in the number of decisions issued by Senior Attorney Advisors. With a bright light being shone by the news media and some members of Congress on certain “outlier” judges issuing a high number of Favorable Decisions the ODARs are giving fewer cases to Senior Attorney Advisors, who can only issue favorable decisions. Furthermore, it’s a lot easier to write a Favorable Decision than an Unfavorable Decision.
As of October 3, 2014 the wait times for the ODARs covering the lower peninsula of Michigan were as follows.
Grand Rapids 381 days
Mt. Pleasant 399 days
Detroit 414 days
Livonia 414 days
Oak Park 427 days
Toledo 431 days
Flint 452 days