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Social Security Backlog Leading to Inadequate Review of Claims

November 7, 2012

According to a new report by congressional investigators, the Social Security program is heavily understaffed, and does not have the resources necessary to deal with the overwhelming number of disability claims that it receives.  As a result, many officials are simply awarding benefits without sufficiently reviewing claims.

The Congressional investigators warn that this could possibly exacerbate the financial struggles of the program, which is already close to insolvency. The Congressional investigators reviewed more than 300 Social Security cases, and found that in more than 25% of them, officials had made the decision to award benefits without proper evidence.

In these cases, the evidence was conflicting, inadequate or incomplete.  The investigators found that in some cases, the officials were not able to review all the evidence in the claim, and in others, they were simply approving of disability claims without seeing enough medical evidence about the disability.

Administrative law judges in charge of reviewing claims are extremely overworked, and are expected to rule on as many as 500 cases a year.  In one case, an administrative law judge ended up reviewing and ruling on 1,800 cases in one year.

The investigators believe that these discrepancies in the reviews of claims lead to an increase in the costs of the program, which is already under heavy scrutiny because of its expenses.

The report finds that there is a lot of pressure from the Social Security Administration to resolve cases, and in many cases, resolution is not being done with stringent review.  There are also problems with hiring standards for judges, although the Social Security Administration insists that the agency does not hesitate when it needs to hold judges accountable for showing partiality.


For more information check out these Social Security Disability FAQs

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