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Social Security Administration working to address delays, P.2

In our previous post, we began speaking about the delay problem in applying for Social Security Disability. As we noted, the agency is attempting to solve the problem, and points to significant strides in the last five years toward that end. There is little doubt, though, that much improvement is needed. And the

Lawmakers, too, have noticed the problem and some are taking steps to address it. Senator Tom Coburn, to name one, is among those calling for increased oversight over the Social Security Administration. Coburn's panel conducted an 18-month investigation, the results of which were published in September, which found that administration law judges overturned agency decisions to award benefits despite without sufficient or complete evidence in over one quarter of 300 cases.

That investigation also found various irregularities in the way decisions were made, including one case where a judge neglected to explain his decisions. In other cases, judges held perfunctory hearings of less than five minutes. While some judges approved almost every claim that came across their desk, others almost never did.

In the election atmosphere this year, the investigation prompted harsh criticisms that the Social Security disability program is handing out benefits to those who don't deserve them. This was trumpeted in the media, while little was mentioned about the fact that many who really need the payments may not be getting what they deserve.

There is no question that the Social Security Administration has its work cut out for it. There is much room for improvement. In the current atmosphere, it is important for those applying for Social Security disability benefits to having a strong advocate who can help them navigate the system. Doing so will increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome, even if a good wait is involved.

Source: Baltimore Sun, "Families face long waits for Social Security disability benefits," Yvonne Wenger, October 27, 2012

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