When you are waiting for your Social Security hearing, it can come as a shock to receive a letter telling you that your case has been transferred to a different hearing office in another state.
Attorney Donald Chewning writes about this on the Wisconsin Disability Blog.
If you are awaiting a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge in Wisconsin you may have noticed that the hearing has been scheduled before a judge in California. In my practice in northeastern Wisconsin, most of my cases would ordinarily be heard by judges from the Milwaukee Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). However, since March 2008 the Social Security Administration has shifted responsibility for cases normally heard by Milwaukee judges at the Green Bay and Oskhosh hearing offices to other ODAR branches. For instance, cases heard at the Green Bay hearing office are being sent to the Oakland, CA ODAR.
For many people, having their case moved to another state causes a lot of stress and worry.
Why was my case moved?
What does it mean for my case?
How much of a delay is THIS going to cause?
Does Social Security think I can travel out of state for my hearing?
Often, there is a good reason for moving the case and it can actually help you!
Moving a Social Security disability case usually speeds up processing
Fortunately, having your case moved out-of-state usually means FASTER processing and LESS TIME waiting for your hearing.
When Social Security moves a disability case out of its home state, or to a different Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) office, they are trying to ease the caseload on an overburdened office. Cases that would otherwise be kept waiting, are moved to a less busy ODAR office.
As you know the wait time for Social Security hearings varies greatly across the country. By moving cases around, Social Security hopes to balance out the more congested ODAR offices and reduce those 3+ year waiting times.
You won’t have to travel out-of-state for your Social Security disability hearing
When Social Security sends a disability case to another ODAR office, they either physically bring in the judge to your nearest ODAR office to hold the hearing, or they hold the hearing via video conference at your ODAR office. You go to your nearest ODAR office (Social Security will tell you where it is), and the judge stays in his/her home state. The hearing is done over video.
If you receive a notice that your case is being moved, don’t worry. Nothing bad is happening. Social Security is just trying to get your case done sooner.