A recent report from the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Office of the Inspector General revealed that the average processing time for a claim is now up to 450 days. With more than 1 million claims waiting to be processed and the program in dire straits, the administration has formulated a plan to reduce the wait time by nearly half.
There are four main reasons for the backlog of claims: an increased number of requests for hearings, less productivity on the part of federal judges who hear appeals, fewer attorneys on staff to decide cases without going through the lengthy hearing process, fewer judges overall.
The cornerstone of the SSA’s plan is to hire approximately 400 more judges to hear cases by 2018. The administration is also utilizing new technology to enhance the quality of video hearings for applicants who live in remote areas where there are no judges. By simplifying the organization of case files, support staff have increased the efficiency of judges’ reviews. Other SSA initiatives focus on streamlining the process and educating applicants
Any improvement to the current wait time Social Security disability applicants face is welcome. Disability Justice and the SSA have similar goals – to ensure that disabled Americans get the benefits they deserve and have paid into their entire working lives. Contact your elected officials to let them know that you support these positive changes within the SSA. Encourage them to support all legislation that protects Social Security so that current and future generations can receive their full, earned benefits.