Each month the Social Security Administration makes available to the public information about its performance. One piece of this information is how long it takes on average in each hearing office for a claimant to get a Social Security Disability hearing. For the month of June 2012, the Birmingham, Alabama ODAR (Office of Disability Adjudication and Review) had an average wait time of 15 months. This time is counted from the time a claimant files a Request For Hearing until the disability hearing is held. It does not include the time that a claimant waits getting a decision on his initial application. Wait times across the country range from 6 months to 17 months. Despite a consistent effort on the part of the Judges to reduce the backlog of cases, Birmingham, Alabama has the 3rd longest wait time in the country. It also has the second highest number of pending social security disability claims. The average wait time has remained around 15 months at this office for the past couple of years. Remember, an average wait time means that there were people who had hearings faster, but also people who had to wait even longer that the 15 months.
Although some cases get decided more quickly without a Social Security Disability hearing, sometimes the judge needs to see and talk to the claimant himself and his attorney in order to decide if the claimant is disabled. This is done at a hearing where the claimant testifies. For example, claims such as depression, anxiety, stress disorders, and bi-polar disease are likely to take longer to get a hearing. Also, any case where pain is important is more likely to require a disability hearing, such as fibromyalgia and arthritis.
The Birmingham, Alabama ODAR serves the Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Gadsden, Jasper, Bessemer and Talladega Social Security Field Offices.
This information can be found on the SSA website at: http://www.ssa.gov/appeals/DataSets/01_NetStat_Report.html