SUMMARY (Basic information)

 

SSA Month: 

An SSA Month may have either four or five weeks and normally ends on the last Friday of the month. (Source: SSA Date Table)

 

Data Period and Fiscal Year:

The Federal Fiscal Year begins with October 1 and ends the following September 30. An SSA Year usually has 52 weeks (12 SSA months, 4 SSA quarters) which coincide with the federal fiscal year, namely ending with the last Friday in September, and beginning the next SSA fiscal year with the following week. (See source, SSA Date Table, for exceptions.)

 

SSA public use files for Hearing Offices and ALJs do not contain monthly data, but publish totals for the current fiscal year. Although the fiscal year begins October 1, the data period actually begins with the SSA fiscal year and ends with the last reported SSA month:

 

 

Workdays:

SSA workdays are defined as all normal business days (Monday through Friday) excluding holidays. The workday is used by SSA to calculate Average Processing Time and Dispositions per ALJ per Day. Workdays in Fiscal Year are reported by SSA. Workdays in Current Month are calculated using current and previous reported fiscal year workdays.

 

 

Why are Workdays in Current Month important? Assuming no holidays, a typical SSA month will have 20 workdays (4 weeks x 5 workdays). Anything less than 20 workdays indicates months with holidays and may explain fewer determinations, hearings and decisions. Months with more than 20 workdays indicates a 5-week month (see SSA Month, above) with, hopefully, a higher number of determinations, hearings decisions.

 

DDS Allowance/Continuation Rates:

Allowances as a percent of decisions for each level of determination. The number of allowances and decisions can be found under the detailed Disability Determination Service portion of the report, where they are also reported by benefit type. (Source: Calculated from SSA State Agency Monthly Workload Data - SSI Child claims are not included)

 

Award Rate:

ALJ Favorable (both fully and partially) decisions as a percent of all decisions. Total awards and decisions can be found under the detailed ODAR Hearing Office portion of the report. (Source: Calculated from SSA ALJ Disposition Data)

 

Wait Time:

The average time (in months) from the date a hearing is requested until the date the hearing is actually held. Allows users to estimate the amount of time they may have to wait for a hearing.  (Source: As reported in SSA NetStat report)

 

Processing Time:

The average processing time (days) from the day your hearing request has been received until your hearing has occurred and a written decision has been mailed. (See Workdays and Processing Time at end of report for further discussion).

 

State, Regional & National:

Compare your state with that of the Regional and National averages. (Source: Calculated average of DDS and ODAR offices within State or Region)

 

 

Disability Determination Service (Advanced/Detailed Information)

 

Benefit Type:

SSA provides raw data for the three different benefit types, which SSA describes as:

 

"The division of claims between SSDI, SSI and concurrent claims can provide significant information about the socioeconomic status of applicants and the demographics of the state agency service area. SSDI-only applicants have a work history and enough income or resources so that they do not qualify for SSI. SSI-only applicants do not have a recent work history and have very low or no income and resources so that they would probably qualify for SSI. Concurrent-only applicants have a recent work history yet also have so little income and resources that they might also qualify for SSI." (State Agency Workload Data)

 

The three benefit types can generally described as:

 

SSDI-Only: Workers who have contributed to the OASDI Trust Fund through payroll withholding and have earned enough work credits to draw benefits from that Fund.

 

SSI-Only: Individuals with limited income and resources who have not worked, or worked long enough, to draw from the OASDI Trust Fund. Benefits are paid from the General Treasury. (Data excludes SSI Disabled Child.)

 

Concurrent: Individuals who receive both SSDI and SSI. They have earned enough work credits for SSDI eligibility, but draw a very small benefit. The SSDI benefit is small enough that these individuals are also eligible to ‘concurrently’ draw SSI.

 

 

Why is the benefit type important? There are very real differences in the Allowance and Completion rates for the three benefit types described above.  Approval rates in general are much higher for SSDI applications, while completion rates in general are lower for SSDI applications. The examples below should be helpful in understanding why it is important to concentrate on the benefit type, rather than the overall total/average of all benefit types.

 

DDS Allowance Rates:

The number of claims allowed as a percentage of determinations. The data used to arrive at these rates can be found in the detailed Activity sections of the report, and described at Activity Detail below.

 

Rates are provided for all benefit types and individual benefit types, with Regional and National comparisons:

 

 

DDS Completion Rates:

The number of claims Completed as a percentage of claims Assigned.  If the rate is higher than 100%, the DDS is making strides to reduce their backlog. If the rate is less than 100%, the DDS is completing fewer claims than they are receiving, thereby adding to their backlog. This can be used as a tool to determine wait time in your state for your benefit type. The data used to arrive at these rates can be found in the detailed Activity sections of the report, and described at Activity Detail below.

 

Rates are provided for all benefit types and individual benefit types, with Regional and National comparisons:

 

 

In the example above, Alabama is completing more claims than the Regional and National averages for each benefit type. And, although the average completion rate for All Types is greater than 100% (meaning Alabama is completing more applications than it is assigned), only SSI-only and Concurrent claims are being processed at a rate greater than 100%. SSDI-only claims are being processed at a rate less – meaning that fewer SSDI claims are being completed than assigned.

 

At both the Regional and National level, SSDI-only claims have a lower completion rate. There are a handful of states, like West Virginia seem to complete claims at a consistent level across all benefit types:

 

 

A small number of states tend to complete SSDI-only claims above SSI-only and Concurrent claims:

 

 

The majority of states are what have the greatest influence on the National trend of greater completion rates for SSI-only and Concurrent claims:

 

 

These variances can sometimes be clarified by studying the actual activity across benefit types, as explained below.

 

Activity Detail (Initial Claims, Reconsiderations and Continuing Disability Reviews):

Number of reported claims assigned, completed, allowed and pending by level of determination and benefit type. (Source: SSA State Agency Monthly Workload Data - SSI Child claims are not included.)

 

Percent of Total: Percent of total is the percentage of All Types for each benefit type:

 

 

Why is Percent of Total important? If 35% of all claims assigned to a DDS are for SSDI-only benefits, then somewhere near 35% of all claims completed should be for SSDI-only claims. The same holds true for SSI-only and Concurrent claims:

 

 

Anything more or less can result in a greater backlog of claims for one benefit type. The backlog for each benefit type can be found in the Current Claims Pending line. The Percent of Total claims pending should also be consistent with claims assigned and claims completed. In the example below, SSDI-only claims completed is a higher rate than those assigned, leading to a lower rate of claims pending – and a higher rate of claims pending for SSI-only and Concurrent.

 

 

Claims Pending can also be used to estimate the wait time for a determination. In all of the above examples, the data period is 9/24/2011 – 4/27/2012. That is seven months into the fiscal year, which began 10/1/2011. During the 7-month period 1,715 SSDI-only claims were completed, indicating an average of 245 SSDI-only claims completed each month (1715 ÷ 7 = 245). There are 870 SSDI-only claims pending, indicating that SSDI-only claims have a 3½ month backlog (870 ÷ 245 = 3.55). Using the same principals, SSI-only claims have a 4 month backlog, and the backlog for Concurrent claims is 4½ months.

 

Continuing Disability Reviews do not include the short-form mailers. These are strictly the claims assigned to a DDS for full-medical review. Additional information in this portion of the report is the number of beneficiaries by benefit type in each state. (Source: Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program and SSI Annual Statistical Report.)

 

Typically there are more SSDI-only beneficiaries than SSI-only and Concurrent recipients. However, the percent of SSDI-only beneficiaries assigned for a full-medical review is small by comparison. As a percent of beneficiaries, SSI typically has the highest number of recipients assigned for full medical review:

 

 

 

ODAR Hearing Offices (Advanced/Detailed Information)

 

Hearing Office Summary:

A summary of activity in each Hearing Office with a comparison to State, Regional and National averages:

 

 

Wait Time is the average time (in months) from the date a hearing is requested until the date the hearing is actually held. Allows users to estimate the amount of time they may have to wait for a hearing.  (Source: As reported in SSA NetStat report)

 

 Processing Time is the average processing time (days) from the day your hearing request has been received until your hearing has occurred and a written decision has been mailed. See Workdays and Processing Time at end of report for further discussion. (Source: As reported in SSA Hearing Office Average Processing Time Ranking)

 

Denial Rate is calculated from data provided in SSA’s ALJ Disposition Data report. It is the total Denials for all ALJs in a Hearing Office as a percent of Decisions.

 

Fully Favorable is calculated from data provided in SSA’s ALJ Disposition Data report. It is the total Fully Favorable awards for all ALJs in a Hearing Office as a percent of Decisions. (A fully favorable decision is one that grants the same onset date as requested.)

 

Partially Favorable is calculated from data provided in SSA’s ALJ Disposition Data report. It is the total Partially Favorable awards for all ALJs in a Hearing Office as a percent of Decisions. (A partially favorable decision is one that agrees with the disability, but not the onset date. The onset date may be changed to a later time than requested. It can also be an award for a closed period – agreement that disability existed at the time of application, but does no longer exist.)

 

Disposition Activity:

Data provided in SSA’s Hearing Office Workload Data report, and compiled from SSA’s ALJ Disposition Data report. Can be used to determine a hearing office’s progress toward reducing backlog:

 

 

New Cases are all hearing requests received for the current fiscal year, as reported in SSA’s Hearing Office Workload Data report.

 

Total Dispositions are all cases that have been closed, either by dismissal or decision, as reported in SSA’s Hearing Office Workload Data report.

 

Disposition Rate is the rate of Dispositions as a percentage of New Cases. If the rate is higher than 100%, the hearing office is making strides to reduce their backlog. If the rate is less than 100%, the hearing office is completing fewer claims than they are receiving, thereby adding to their backlog.

 

Cases Dismissed is calculated as difference between Total Dispositions and Cases Decided. Reasons for Dismissal include: Hearing request not timely field; Hearing request Withdrawn; Failure to appear; No right to a hearing; administrative res judicata applies.

 

Cases Decided is the total of all ALJ decisions for a hearing office, as reported in SSA’s ALJ Disposition Data report. Cases decided differ from dispositions in that they do not include dismissals. They are cases that have either received an on-the-record decision or gone through hearing and written decision. (An on-the-record decision is one that is a fully favorable award based on the medical evidence already in file – without the need for an actual hearing. Only fully favorable decisions can be issued on-the-record.)

 

Cases Pending is the backlog per hearing office as reported in SSA’s Hearing Office Workload Data report.

 

Hearing Office Performance:

Data provided in SSA’s Hearing Office Dispositions per ALJ per Day Ranking and compiled from SSA’s ALJ Disposition Data report.

 

 

Number of Judges is the total of ALJs assigned to each hearing office as reported in SSA’s ALJ Disposition Data report.

 

Reported Dispositions/ALJ/Day is described by SSA as: The average shown will be a combined average for all ALJs working in that hearing office. Dispositions are all cases that have been closed, either by dismissal or decision. (Source: Hearing Office Dispositions per ALJ per Day Ranking)

 

Calculated Dispositions/ALJ/Day is our calculation using the reported Workdays, number of judges and dispositions per hearing office.

 

Calculated Dispositions/ALJ/Day is our calculation of Dispositions per day using the reported Workdays, number of judges and decisions per hearing office. Decisions differ from dispositions in that they do not include dismissals. They are cases that have either received an on-the-record decision or gone through hearing and written decision. (An on-the-record decision is one that is a fully favorable award based on the medical evidence already in file – without the need for an actual hearing. Only fully favorable decisions can be issued on-the-record.)

 

Video and In-Person Hearings are reported by SSA in their Hearings Held In-Person or Via Video Conferencing report.

 

 

Administrative Law Judge (Advanced/Detailed Information)

 

ALJ statistics are provided individually for each ALJ that assigned to a hearing office in the state. State, Regional and National averages per ALJ are provided as a means of comparing individual ALJ performance against averages for all ALJs.

 

ALJs that have decided cases in more than one hearing office will appear twice in the individual listing (see Beers, Caroline below). To view combined cases for an ALJ, please refer to the 12-month Comparison page.

 

 

Cases Dismissed is calculated as difference between Total Disposed and Cases Decided. Reasons for Dismissal include: Hearing request not timely field; Hearing request Withdrawn; Failure to appear; No right to a hearing; administrative res judicata applies.

 

Cases Decided is the number of decisions by an ALJ, as reported in SSA’s ALJ Disposition Data report. Cases decided differ from dispositions in that they do not include dismissals. They are cases that have either received an on-the-record decision or gone through hearing and written decision. (An on-the-record decision is one that is a fully favorable award based on the medical evidence already in file – without the need for an actual hearing. Only fully favorable decisions can be issued on-the-record.)

 

Decided/Day is calculated as the number of decisions made by an ALJ per day. Workdays used for the calculation vary by ALJ, as newer ALJs will not have worked the full fiscal year. This is why ALJs with the same number of decisions may have different calculated decisions per day.

 

Decisions differ from dispositions in that they do not include dismissals. They are cases that have either received an on-the-record decision or gone through hearing and written decision. (An on-the-record decision is one that is a fully favorable award based on the medical evidence already in file – without the need for an actual hearing. Only fully favorable decisions can be issued on-the-record.)

 

Total Disposed is the number of dispositions by an ALJ, as reported in SSA’s ALJ Disposition Data report.

 

Disposed/Day is calculated as the number of dispositions made by an ALJ per day. Workdays used for the calculation vary by ALJ, as newer ALJs will not have worked the full fiscal year. This is why ALJs with the same number of dispositions may have different calculated dispositions per day.

 

Denial Rate is calculated from data provided in SSA’s ALJ Disposition Data report and is the number of Denials as a percent of Decisions.

 

Fully Favorable is calculated from data provided in SSA’s ALJ Disposition Data report and is the number of Fully Favorable awards as a percent of Decisions. (A fully favorable decision is one that grants the same onset date as requested.)

 

Partially Favorable is calculated from data provided in SSA’s ALJ Disposition Data report. It is the number of Partially Favorable awards as a percent of Decisions. (A partially favorable decision is one that agrees with the disability, but not the onset date. The onset date may be changed to a later time than requested. It can also be an award for a closed period – agreement that disability existed at the time of application, but does no longer exist.)

 

 

A Note on Workdays and Processing Time

 

When reporting average processing time in the Hearing Office Average Processing Time Ranking, report or decisions per day in the Hearing Office Dispositions Per ALJ Per Day Ranking report, SSA seems to indicate the data is based on Workdays, as the number of Workdays to-date in the Fiscal year is reported in the heading.

  

The Data Dictionary is not clear as to whether the Average Processing Time is based on Workdays or Calendar Days. It states that calendar days are used to calculate Average Processing; however, it also states that number of work days are used in in applying calculations to both of the reports referenced above:

 

The NetStat report describes Wait Time for a hearing as “The average time (in months) from the hearing request date until a hearing is held…”; and the Hearing Office Average Processing Time Ranking report describes Processing Time as “The average processing time (days) from the day your hearing request has been received until your hearing has occurred and your file is complete…”.

 

So it would stand to reason that average Processing Time “until your hearing has occurred and your file is complete…” should be longer than “until a hearing is held…” For most hearing offices, however, converting Processing Time days to calendar months results in fewer months than the number of months reported as Wait Time for a hearing.  Using SSA workdays to convert Processing Time to an SSA work month results in five to seven months from hearing date to file completion:

 

 

Neither conversion seems likely. What is more likely is when reporting Processing Time, SSA is including on-the-record decisions. However the average days for Processing Time as reported by SSA are arrived at, they should not be relied on to determine how long one might expect to wait for a written decision after a hearing has occurred.