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SOCIAL SECURITY UPDATE - 4/15

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SOCIAL SECURITY UPDATE - 4/15
By Scott B. Elkind, Esq.

The Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration (SSA) has issued a series of audit reports which reveal the current state of the internal processes at SSA.

The July, 2014 audit concerning the completeness of SSA’s disability claims files revealed the Department of Disability Determination staff did not always develop all medical evidence before making a disability decision. The ODAR staff did not obtain medical evidence when claimants reported medical treatment at the time they requested a hearing.

The April, 2014 OIG audit addressed SSA’s progress in reducing the initial disability claims backlog. SSA had established a goal of reducing the initial disability claims backlog to 525,000 by 2014. The reality was quite different with SSA unable to meet this goal despite large increases in employee hiring and use of electronic claims analysis screening tools. By 2013, there were nearly 700,000 backlogged initial disability claims.

Another April, 2014 audit reviewed the state of full medical continuing disability review cessations. In 80% of continuing disability review denials which were overturned at the reconsideration level, there was new medical evidence that was not available during the initial review. No blame was assigned for the failure of SSA personnel to obtain this evidence prior to denying the claim.

These reports document continuing problems at SSA despite $2.8M paid to two different research consortiums in 2013 for the purpose of assisting with the disability program (OIG report dated 2/1/13).

 

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