Throughout my lifetime I have heard that the Social Security system in the United States is in financial peril. Yet the system continues to persevere. In fact, as I have written in earlier blogs, in no way is the system broke. Nonetheless, the aging of baby boomers and 10% cuts by Congress in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) core operating budget since 2010 have stressed the SSA’s bureaucracy that processes disability claims. These reductions in the SSA’s budget have decreased the number of human staff available to administer the programs offered by Social Security, thus often increasing the waiting periods for the rendering of services.
Nearly the entire operating budget of the SSA is expended on staffing. Of course, it is these dedicated individuals who directly serve the general public. They perform various tasks like answer questions, process claims, replace lost Social Security cards, and conduct all of the other daily business necessary to efficiently move claims through the system. SSA payment centers are obviously important as they not only handle payments to claimants, but also resolve issues concerning claims.
Over the years, there has been attrition in the ranks of the SSA workers. SSA’s staff has shrunk 6 percent nationwide since 2010, while Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and West Virginia have lost more than 15 percent of their staff during the same time period. 64 field offices have been closed by the SSA since 2010. These shortages have caused a current backlog of one million applications. The SSA is continually asked to more with less, with the benefits of technology not yet fully realized. While SSA employees no doubt do their best, we now live with the results.
The SSA also provides funding for state Disability Determination Service (DDS) workers who determine whether the severity of applicants’ disabilities allow them to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The number of DDS staff members has decreased 14 percent in the U.S. since 2010, while Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas have seen reductions of over 20 percent.
The lesson here is that the SSA is overworked and most likely understaffed. Applicants should be patient with the SSA, and timely provide the paperwork requested. From my blog, you should now understand that when you apply for disability, you will be providing a 15 year work history, a detailed medical history, a list physicians, facilities, and a list of current medications, …. Have that information ready! Even better, get a copy of your MRI or CT Scan.. There are also non-medical inquiries, like prior marriages, defendant minor children, etc. I have personally seen angry claimants removed from offices, or even barred from federal courthouses. While I understand the frustration of everyone involved, losing your temper will not help your case.
An experienced disability attorney can help claimants properly file their claim for benefits, thus minimizing the delays that may result from any decline in SSA services. Contact the Sullivan Law Office today by calling 888-587-0228 or visiting us online! We offer free consultations, so you have absolutely nothing to lose! We look forward to hearing from you.