Friday, April 10, 2009

Social Security Disability System Apparently not a High Priority

Many people are unaware of it, but though disability examiners work to render the disability determination for each social security disability and SSI disability claim, they are not actually federal employees, as are field office claims reps who work in local social security offices. Instead, they are state employees who work at a state agency that, in most states, is known as DDS, or disability determination services.

What's the problem with disability examiners who make decisions on federal disability claims being state workers? There are a number of problems: lack of consistency in training, poor retention of disability examiners (because the job doesn't pay much, there's often high turnover), and way too much inconsistency in decision making processes and internal policy.

However, there's also another problem lately. Being state workers, disability examiners are now subject to being furloughed by states that have budget problems, which is ironic considering that, even though disability examiners are actually employed by the state in which they work, their salaries are paid for by the federal government (at least, that was always my understanding).

What does furloughs for social security disability claims examiners do? Without being Einstein, I'd say the potential effect is having the processing of disability applications and request for reconsideration appeals grind a lot more slowly.

Last year, disability examiners processed over three and a half million social security disability claims and SSI disability claims for disabled individuals who are not able to work and earn what is referred to as substantial gainful activity and, thus, were/are in danger of losing everything they have. In that light, I'd say that furloughing disability examiners and slowing the system down...even slower than it currently moves qualifies as a travesty.

And one has to wonder why this is allowed to occur, particularly when the American population is aging and the filing of disability claims is rising. It can only lead one to a certain conclusion: fixing the social security disability system, despite the rhetoric captured from the mouths of each and every member of Congress who sees fit--when the cameras are rolling--to decry the unfairness of a system that leaves so many claimants in foreclosure and bankruptcy (due to the extreme amount of time a case can take before benefits are eventually awarded)...must not be such a high priority after all.

Federalizing the individual state disability agencies and making them a true part of the social security administration would eliminate furlough nonsense. Where are furloughs occurring? So far, in Oregon, Ohio, New Jersey, California, Connecticut, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts

Getting Social Security Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability for Mental and Physical Problems
How does Social Security Disability use your Work History?
SSI Benefits - How to apply for SSI Disability
How to get SSI - How to get approved for SSI
How Long Can a Person Receive Social Security Disability?
How is Social Security Disability Awarded?



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