Saturday, May 24, 2008

Social Security Disability and changes in the works

A recent article by an ABC affiliate mentions that SSA plans to expedite cases involving terminal conditions and to hire up to 4000 employees. It also, as most of these stories do, focuses on the long wait to get to hearings and to get disability benefits awarded.

Unfortunately, being denied at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels is fairly common, and having to wait an additional two years for a social security hearing date is growing more common. Regarding the 4,000 hirees, that's great. But I wonder if any of those hires acccounts for growth in benefit demand. More likely, its to backfill the number of vacancies that have been allowed to pile up in SSA field offices over the last few years when retiring workers have simply not been replaced.

Regarding the streamlining of the process for fatal disabilities, I wouldn't bet on anything until its seen in progress. Currently, disability determination services already has the option of marking a case involving a terminally ill claimant as TERI and then expediting it. I'm hoping for changes, but so far every announcement by SSA regarding momentous change has been disappointing.

A few journalists may recall how they were duped into believing that the last SSA Commissioner was going to reform the system with the DSI program. That was a failure from the word go and only wasted precious time. The real answer, as always, has been to get more warm bodies working at desks so cases can be moved at field offices, DDS offices, and at hearing offices. A smart idea, also, would be to provide state-level disability examiners with better pay (for employee retention) and to provide better training for the sake of better decisions coming out of the state DDS offices.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

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