Sunday, December 23, 2007

Social Security Disability - crushing backlogs, rapidly growing application rates and steadily declining numbers of workers

Here's a link to an article appearing in the Modesto Bee. It doesn't really say anything more than any other recent article that focuses on the current state of processing for SSD benefits and SSI benefits.

However, because these statistiscs always merit repetition (obviously, since the system has been allowed to slip into such a delapidated state), I'll repeat them here:

1. The average wait for a social security disability hearing, nationally, is 520 days.

This is a staggering statistic for a number of reasons. First of all (for those who are not aware of how elongated the system truly is), because before a claimant can even request a disability hearing, their claim has to have been denied at both the application and reconsideration levels. Together, these two steps can easily consume a year's time. Take that time and add to it the 520 day wait for a hearing and you begin to see that the current federal system is one that almost guarantees that a disabled worker will lose nearly everything they have.

And, of course, that's not where it all ends. Even after the hearing is held, a claimant may not receive a decision from an administrative law judge for weeks...or months. And even after a decision has been issued, it can take yet more months to receive one's back pay (by this time, back pay will become especially important for catching up "little incidentals" such as past due mortgage payments.

2. The backlog of people waiting will balloon to one million by the year 2010.

That's only two years away. And the way its looking, the federal government is doing nothing to allow the social security administration to properly prepare for this.

What do I mean by properly prepare? There's only one thing, as far as I am concerned. Approve a budget that allows SSA to hire the number of workers needed to process claims fast enough to get the backlogs reduced, or at least enough workers to ensure that the backlogs do not continue to rise (yes, I've said many times that, ultimately, the responsibility for funding the social security administration adequately so that it may properly staff its field offices is with Congress---however, the way to put the ball into Congress' court is to have a White House that will actually demand this from our elected Senators and Representatives).

Some extremely conservative individuals may argue against this type of solution, of course, arguing that this problem, like every other problem, is not one that requires "throwing money at it". However, that is a blind and errant approach. The simple fact of the matter is this: the only reason for the current backlogs and long waits for benefits that drive thousands of citizens into foreclosure and bankruptcy and homelessness is the fact that the social security administration does not have eough workers. And that is entirely a reflection of inadequate budgets and a Congress that is failing to serve the needs of disabled citizens.

Here's the link to the Modesto Bee article---

End the backlog on disability claims

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts:

How to get disability
Disability Requirements
Social Security Disability Benefits
Filing for Disability
Degenerative disc disease