Many individuals seeking Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits end up seeing their case go to the second stage in the Social Security Administration’s appeals process: The hearing stage.
Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., has provided extensive information about what you can expect to encounter at a SSD hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). We encourage you to review this information and, above all, to speak with our law firm to learn more about how we can possibly help you with your hearing.
Here, we would like to focus more on the office where your hearing would likely be held if you are a resident of the Upstate region of South Carolina: The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) in Greenville.
To see much of the data discussed in this article as well as data for ODAR offices located elsewhere in the country, simply visit the public data files section of the Social Security Administration’s website.
Why Will Your SSD Hearing Be Held in Greenville?
The Greenville office is one of 164 ODAR hearing offices located across the country. The only other ODAR offices in South Carolina are located in Columbia and Charleston.
The Greenville office handles appeals that come through the South Carolina-based Social Security Administration (SSA) field offices in Spartanburg, Greenville, Anderson, Clinton and Greenwood as well as the North Carolina field offices in Franklin and Hendersonville.
Your hearing typically would be held at this office if you are an Upstate resident because, according to the SSA, these hearings should be held at the ODAR office that is located within 75 miles of your home. However, in some situations, a hearing may be moved to a different office in order to help reduce backlogs.
According to the SSA website, there are nine ALJs who decide cases in the Greenville office.
What Is the Average Waiting Time for a SSD Hearing in Greenville?
Many SSD applicants want to know, “How long will it take for me to get a hearing?” The answer will depend on which ODAR office handles your case.
According to the SSA, the average time it takes from the date a hearing is requested to the actual date of the hearing is 15 months for the Greenville office. This is a slightly longer wait time than the offices in Charleston (13 months) and Columbia (14.5 months).
Of course, an attorney can help you to expedite the appeals process in some cases. In particular, an attorney may seek an on-the-record review, which is a way of having your case decided on a written legal argument (brief) rather than a hearing, or in limited cases, your attorney can write a dire need letter that describes a severe hardship you may face if your hearing is delayed any longer.
SSA data shows that the Greenville office had 8,093 cases pending at the end of April 2014, compared to 9,443 in Columbia and 6,756 in Charleston.
The ALJs in Greenville average 2.01 hearings dispositions per day. On average, it takes 494 days until final disposition of a hearing request in Greenville, ranking it No. 154 out of the nation’s 164 ODAR offices.
The SSA has increasingly used video conferencing for hearings. However, based on SSA data, most of the hearings held in the Greenville office are in person. In fact, only about 18 percent are held by video.
How Are Cases Decided in Greenville?
According to the SSA, a total of 1,783 decisions were made by ALJs in the Greenville ODAR office between September 28, 2013 and April 25, 2014 – or a roughly seven-month period. Out of those decisions, awards were granted in 1,079 cases, or 60.5 percent, while denials were issued in 704 cases.
In comparison, 1,163 awards were granted out of 2,069 decisions in the Columbia office (56.2 percent), while 1,199 out of 2,337 decisions in the Charleston office resulted in awards (51.3 percent).
Also, “fully favorable decisions” (the ALJ approved the disability claim as well as the onset date of the disability) were issued in 1,018 cases in the Greenville office, or in 57.1 percent of cases decided. “Partially favorable decisions” (the ALJ approved the claim but determined the onset date to be later than what was claimed) were issued in 61 cases.
Keep in mind: Every case is unique and determined on its own merits. So, it is important not to draw any hasty conclusions about your SSD benefits case based on the above numbers.
Again, it is always important to have your case carefully reviewed and handled by an attorney who has experience with handling disability benefits cases, including those in the ODAR office located in Greenville.