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CORY A.

BOOKER suite sd-359
NEW JERSEY DIRKSEN BUILDING
WASHINGTON,DC 20510-3007
(202) 224-3224

Bnjted States Senate

June 8, 2018

Nancy A. Berryhill
Acting Commissioner
Social Security Administration
6401 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21235

Dear Commissioner Berryhill:

I write today to express serious concerns with the backlog for disability hearings at the Social
Security Administration(SSA)in relation to the Administrative Review Process. Our Social
Security system provides crucial income security for many vulnerable Americans, but with an
increase in applications and a growing backlog, millions are waiting for their critical lifesaving
and earned benefits.

As you know,denied applications for disability insurance are subject to an extensive appeals
process. Last year, applicants waited an average of 596 days to plead their cases before an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), nearly double the average wait time from 2012.'In New
Jersey, the average processing time is even longer, with claimants waiting over 700 days to
appear before an ALJ.^ From September 2017 to February 2018, New Jersey's three hearing
offices had a significant amount of pending cases, totaling 23,900 across the state; 5,995 in
Jersey City, 9,286 in Newark,and 8,619 cases in South Jersey.^ My constituents waiting for a
hearing date are among the most vulnerable in the country; they struggle with dwindling savings
accounts, limited funds to access prescription medications, and even foreclosure on their homes.
Between FY16 and FY17, over 18,700 people died nationwide while waiting to receive a hearing
date for their disability benefits.'' This is simply unacceptable and Americans deserve better.

I appreciate the Agency's effort to put forth goals focused on curbing the implications of
extensive wait times and the number of hearings pending in the Compassionate and Responsive
Service(CARES)and Anomaly Plan. While the CARES plan begins to address mounting wait
times, we must continue to find ways to aid the bottlenecks that exist at all levels of the

'McCoy, Terrence. The Washington Post."597 days. And Still Waiting." 20, November 2017.
http://www.washingtonDOSt.com/sf/local/20l 7/1 1/20/10000-people-died-waiting-For-a-disabilitv-decision-in-the-
past-vear-wijl-he-be-next/?utm term=.83etO 18dfc95
- Social Security Administration. Hearing Office Average Processing Time Ranking Report FY 18.
https://www.ssa.gov/appeals/DataSets/05 Average Processing Time Reoort.html
^ Social Security Administration, Hearing Office Workload Data FY 18.
https://www.ssa.gov/appeais/DataSets/02 HO Workload Data.html
•*" McCoy, Terrence. The Washington Post."597 days. And Still Waiting." 20, November 2017.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/local/2017/1 l/20/lQ000-people-died-waiting-for-a-disabilitv-decision-in-the-
past-vear-will-he-be-next/?umi term=.83eft)18dfc95