According to a recent report by congressional investigators, overworked Social Security officials often award disability benefits without adequately reviewing claims. The investigators reportedly review 300 randomly selected cases from Virginia, Alabama and Oklahoma in which people were awarded disability benefits. In over one quarter of the cases, decisions to award benefits “failed to properly address insufficient, contradictory or incomplete evidence.”
In many cases, the report says, officials approved disability benefits without citing adequate medical evidence to support their finding or without provide an explanation of the medical basis for their decision. In some cases, administrative law judges didn’t take time to review all the evidence.
The findings are concerning to many, given the current struggle of the system to stay in financial equilibrium. The lawmakers that approved the report say the findings are more evidence of the need for change in the system.
What is interesting about the report is the fact that it does not take into consideration Social Security disability applications that have been rejected. If it truly is the case that Social Security officials are overworked and failing to adequately review all the evidence in claims, what is the accuracy level of rejected claims?
Given the current financial struggles of the administration, this probably isn’t a popular question to ask. But it is an important one. There are many people who initially have their disability applications rejected only to appeal the decision and face more waiting before they are finally approved. These people typically cannot afford to wait even longer for the benefits they need, yet they often have to.
Source: Huffington Post, “Investigation faults judges in disability cases,” September 12, 2012