Congressional hearings this month again raised the question of how the Social Security Administration (SSA) is conducting its reviews of Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefit payments. According to the hearings, the SSA currently has a backlog of 1.3 million reviews that it needs to conduct.
These reviews are important, as they allow the agency to review disability benefit recipients to confirm that they continue to qualify for their SSDI payments. While many people suffer lifetime disabilities and will never improve or recover sufficiently from their mental or physical impairment, for some a return to work may be possible.
The danger here is that the congressional call for improved review procedures within the SSA is couched in terms that often suggest that the SSDI funding shortfall can be made up merely by a better review process or more aggressive anti-fraud procedures. An official from the SSA told the congressional subcommittee that even if the SSA cleaned up the entire backlog of disability reviews, it would not solve the SSDI funding issue.
They also noted that the backlog is in part because budget cuts to the agency have meant more 11,000 job cuts in the SSA. This shortage of staff directly affects the agency’s ability to conduct reviews in a timely fashion.
Review of disability claims is time consuming and expensive. Beneficiary’s files must be reviewed, current medical information must be obtained and then a knowledgeable review must be conducted by a trained SSA staffer.
Training is important, because we do not want to see valid claims for Ohio client’s SSDI benefits revoked by mistakes in the review process. That will only lead to additional expense for the agency as those revocations are appealed.
Source: NewOK.com, “Disability reviews won’t save Social Security program from shortfall, official says,” Chris Casteel, April 10, 2014