A recent article in the Buffalo News interviews two Social Security administrative law judges regarding the backlog of disability claims. The article cites several problems contributing to the backlog. For me, the most meaningful problem discussed by the judges is that the DDS agencies are denying most claims, often for no logical reason.
While there has been much discussion of the Social Security hearing offices and the backlog, in my opinion the responsibility for the backlog rests squarely on the shoulders of DDS agencies, which make the initial and reconsideration determinations on disability claims.
DDS created the backlog by denying claims that should have been granted under Social Security's rules.
When the claim gets to the hearing level, an ALJ looks at the entire record and applies Social Security's regulations and rulings. After doing so, ALJs are often concluding, as the Buffalo News article notes, and there was no logical reason to deny the claim at the DDS level.