Social Security Disability Backlog Problem will not be fixed without Adequately Replacing Lost Workers
I came across this on Attorney Charles Hall's blog (Social Security News).
Richard Warsinskey recently testified before Congress. Who is Mr. Warsinskey? He is an SSA employee (thirty-two years) and a manager of a social security field office (Cleveland, Ohio). He gave testimony as a representative of the National Council of Social Security Management Associations (NCSSMA).
What did he have to say? Quite a bit. But, like Mr. Hall, I'm focused on certain statistics offered in his Congressional testimony regarding the social security administration's plan to replace lost workers. And I'm focused on them chiefly because the mainstream media has absolutely no understanding of the deep hole this federal agency is in, new depths for which are being dug every day.
According to Mr. Warsinskey, the social security administration plans on doing the following in this fiscal year:
1. Of those social security employees who work in field offices (these are your local social security offices), only replacing 7 of every ten who quit or retire.
2. Of those social security employees who work in payment processing centers (these are the individuals who get benefits rolling for individuals who have been approved for disability), only replacing 2 of every five who quit or retire.
3. Of those individuals who work in the state disability processing agencies, i.e. the disability determination services, only replacing 1 of every two that quit or retire.
These are sobering statistics. And they reveal just what is in store for a federal agency whose workload will only keep growing and growing. I have posted here more times than I can count just how precarious the social security administration's position is with regard to its field office staffing. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you continually fail to replace lost workers and continually reassign the workloads of workers who quit or retire to workers that are still on the job, you do nothing but give those remaining workers every incentive to quit or retire themselves.
Yet, from the media we see a continued focus on stories that are insubstantial and quite useless with regard to pointing out how troubled the social security disability program and the social security administration are. Instead, the media prints or broadcasts stories that are composed of "feel good fluff" or stories that essentially amount to government issued press releases. The CBS two-part broadcast on social security disability backlogs was a prime example. Laced with disingenuous images of individuals in wheelchairs (a person who has been prescribed the use of a wheelchair by a physician will be approved in every case, not denied as the CBS broadcast led viewers to believe with its use of imagery), it said nothing substantial about the core programs faced by SSA, which essentially boil down to...a lack of funding.
Just as disturbing and disappointing as the CBS "investigative journalism" piece on social security disability are the many stories focusing on individual congressman and congresswomen who are suddenly appearing in newspaper articles as advocates for the disabled. Such stories typically focus on a representative's intervention in a specific case, or the representative's opposition to an SSA policy initiative (A good example: Social Security Disability Claims in Kansas). Yet, every single problem currently faced by the social security administration can be laid at the feet of Congress as only Congress has the final authority to provide funding for the social security administration.
Will the social security disability backlog problem ever be fixed. Yes, when enough attention is paid to the root cause of the problem: the social security administration's inability to replace lost workers due to insufficient funding.
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