A POOR START TO 2015 BY SSA
By Scott B. Elkind, Esq.
The tarot cards for 2015 for the Social Security Administration read very poorly. At the outset, SSA remains beset by many pressing issues:
- The backlog of pending hearings continues to increase and will exceed the one million mark any day
- The current average processing time for a case is 422 days
- 19,000 claimants who had their cases improperly dismissed will be offered another opportunity to have their hearing
- Videoconferencing difficulties persist, especially in the use of vocational experts, medical experts and interpreters by phone whose voices remain poorly transmitted via the video feed
- In response to claimants’ need to change residence due to their precarious financial state, SSA allows ALJs to deny requests for live hearings instead of video hearings at locations where the claimant no longer resides
- Decreased allowance rate for initial applications at 33% (down from 37% in FY2013)
- Dramatic decrease in allowance rate at ALJ hearing of 48% (down from 68% in RY 2007)
- Low allowance rate ALJs increased allowance rates of 24% as compared to 21% in FY2010. In other words, no real change
- Nearly 56,000 beneficiaries had their benefits improperly denied by SSA, resulting in $122.6M in underpayments
So, the new year for SSA looks remarkable like the last one......horrible.