Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Knoxville not the only city with Disability Hearing Delays

Nearly every day I get several calls from clients who wonder, "has anything happened on my case". Last time I checked with the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, there were approximately 4,300 cases waiting to be heard. That's 4,300 people who are out of work, and running short of money.

Today, Joe shows me statistics from a recent NOSSCR newsletter, showing that the Knoxville office actally has more than 5,000 cases waiting for Social Security Disability hearings.

Imagine being at the bank with 5,000 people in front of you. Now imagine that the customers problems are very complex and that the bank staff can only handle 10-12 per day. The staff works as hard as they can, but the people just keep lining up.

Here is an article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer that sheds some light on the subject.

For nearly two years, Terry Van Gieson had to wear a plastic bag, like a diaper, around his stomach to collect his body's waste. He has other troubles, too. Numbness in his legs makes it difficult to walk or stand for long. He's diabetic. And recent surgery for his intestinal problems has him back in the hospital.

But his biggest worry is his Social Security disability check.

He can't get one, even though he paid into the system for 20 years while he worked. Twice, the government has told him no. He's not sick enough.

He appealed the decision in December 2005.

Ever since, the 41-year-old security guard from South Euclid has been waiting to see an administrative law judge in Cleveland to plead his case. In the meantime, he has sold his belongings. He lives off food stamps, $115 a month in welfare and a girlfriend who has gone into debt supporting him. And he's hoping for his day in court.

More than 12,600 other people are waiting with him, according to numbers from the Social Security Administration. That's just to get a hearing in the Cleveland office, which handles cases from throughout Northeast Ohio. Of the U.S. Social Security Administration's 140 other hearing offices across the country, only six have bigger backlogs and one is in Columbus, according to 2006 Social Security data provided by the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives. The professional group is for lawyers and paralegals who help those filing for disability.

Cannon & Anderson, Attorneys
Straight Answers about Social Security Disability
2916 Tazewell Pike, Ste. F
Knoxville, TN 37918
(865) 522-9000

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