The Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (“ODAR”) of the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) is Theresa Gruber. According to Ms. Gruber, the 1.1 million pending hearings at ODAR is a record high, as is the 543 days on average that it takes ODAR to process a claim. Fortunately, I represent a former 58 year old plumber whose Social Security Disability (“SSD”) application was approved in about a month and half, so he avoided the ODAR delays.
The plumber had two bad knees, one of which had been surgically replaced. I obtained a report from the claimant’s surgeon detailing how the claimant could not stand, walk, and sit anywhere near the number of hours required to perform full time work. However, many claimants provide similar medical support without getting approved so quickly. So what happened here?
The claimant worked as a plumber for 32 years, earning a six figure income. While the SSA denial rates have increased, there seems to be a trend of approving SSD applications more quickly when the claimant has a protracted work history with a high income. It may be that in light of the hearing backlog, state agencies are being less rigorous when claimants have a protracted work history with a high income because common sense dictates that such a person would continue to work if they could.