The Social Security Administration (SSA) has its work cut out for it.

Last year alone, there were 2,412,267 Social Security disability applications submitted. The majority of the applications filed are denied. Once denied, many claimants appeal the denials, and then they are sent to hearings, where their fate lies in the hands of Administrative Law Judges (ALJs). In the late stages of the appeals process, a large portion of the claims get sent back to the appeals council where an ALJ makes the final decision. This is where the process breaks down, because there are over a million people who are currently waiting for their hearing decisions, and some of those people have had to wait as long as 17 months for decisions. In an attempt to cope with this backlog of claimants, the SSA has proposed a new change in ALJ hearings.

The SSA has proposed a change to how ALJs are selected.

ALJs are supposed to be separate from the SSA, and they are supposed to be protected under federal law against agency pressure. However, the SSA has proposed that, when claims get sent back to the appeals council, they will be seen by an ALJ who doesn’t hold the same independence from the SSA as traditional ALJs. The SSA says that this change is necessary to speed up the process and work through the backlog of claimants who are waiting for decisions from their ALJ hearings, but The Associate of Administrative Law Judges is against the change because they claim that it isn’t legal.

If you are stuck waiting for your disability decision, know that the SSA is at least aware of the problem. Your best bet for getting a prompt decision is to hire a lawyer to get you the Social Security help you need in Louisville.