Can Disability Determination Services Keep Up
(Here's a contributed post from a social security administration employee who, for obvious reasons, will remain nameless. The post was sent in sometime before furloughs began to appear in some states)
Last year roughly two and half million individuals filed for Social Security and/ or Supplemental Security Income disability. These numbers will only increase as the population of the United States ages and these statistics just address initial disability claims, not how many appeals have been filed across the nation.
Social Security estimated that nearly six hundred thousand individuals appealed their disability claim to a hearing last year. Although the state disability determination agencies do not process hearings, they do process all initial disability claims and reconsideration appeals. With no end in sight, state disability determination agencies around the nation are hard pressed to keep up. Many disability determinations agencies are losing seasoned employees due to the stress of the job, and this adds to processing time for disability claims. Most disability examiners are overworked and underpaid, so one has to wonder what the overall effect these work conditions have on the quality of Social Security medical determinations.
Although Social Security has launched new online services that “supposedly” reduce the work for claims representative, these initiatives have had very little affect upon the overall work load of claims representatives or disability examiners. In fact, these online initiatives are strictly for the convenience of applicants, and also for public relations. Social Security online initiatives geared toward saving disability applicants time with their appeals and disability claims...often create more work for claims representatives and disability examiners on the back end of the process.
As Social Security attempts to streamline the disability process for applicants, the burden of processing all of these disability claims is falling on state agencies that are understaffed and overworked. It is unclear how long the various Social Security disability determination services will be able to keep up with an ever-increasing workload. But it stands to reason that unless Social Security finds a way to make sure these agencies are fully staffed processing times will continue to suffer.
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