The Portland, Maine hearing office has an average processing time of 258 days for Social Security disability claims, according to the latest backlog report distributed by NOSSCR. Of the 150 hearing offices around the country, Portland's processing time is the second shortest. Congratulations to Philip Smith, the Hearing Office Director, to the administrative law judges, and to the entire staff at the Portland ODAR for this ongoing achievement.
Processing time runs from the day the hearing office receives a hearing request to the day a decision is issued. Since the hearing office gives 75 days notice when scheduling a disability hearing, that means just 6 months elapses from when the hearing office gets a claim until a hearing date is scheduled. These times are consistent with my actual experience with claims at the Portland hearing office.
If there is a downside to this remarkable performance, I think the Portland hearing office has become less receptive to on the record requests. I file an on the record request from time to time, when the medical evidence is particularly strong or when the claimant is over 50 years old and would grid favorably under the Medical-Vocational guidelines. I haven't been getting these granted lately, and it may be that there is little incentive to grant an OTR request when a hearing would be just a few months away.