The Benefits Of Disability

1764 Words8 Pages
History and Background As of 2017, over 1.1 million people are waiting to be seen by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to appeal for disability benefits according to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Social Security Administration (OIG, 2017). The backlog has been growing each year: since the end of Fiscal Year 2015, the number of cases awaiting “decision-writing” (the process in which an ALJ makes a determination and the office writes up the needed paperwork) increased 182 percent (OIG, 2017). Additionally, the average number of days an individual must wait to hear a decision has increased from 426 in 2010 to 543 in 2016 (OIG, 2017). This means most disabled individuals in need of medical relief from pain or monetary…show more content…
ALOs are reporting an average of 22 percent fewer staff, mostly for decision-writing positions (OIG, 2017). These positions assist with the large amount of written documentation required with the judges ruling. The OIG reports that decisions to “Decline” benefits require more paperwork than “Approved” cases (2017)… To further hinder the staffing shortage, President Trump’s executive order for a federal employee hiring freeze went into effect in January 2017. This order interrupted the only existing plan to increase staffing for ALOs which began in 2016. The order was lifted eight months later, but cause added delays (https://www.ssa.gov/appeals/documents/2017_Updated_CARES_Anomaly_Plan.pdf, 2017). Along with the staffing decline, the OIG reports since 2011, a “renewed focus on quality” as adding to the appeal timeframe and therefore reducing the number of cases an ALJ can review each day (OIG…). The cause of this added scrutiny is widely attributed to be a response to a lawsuit from that same year( ). The lawsuit ruled against a West Virginian ALJ who was found guilty of assigning a high number of cases to himself by not following the mandatory rotation schedule and breaking other guidelines. [[This focus on quality caused ALJs to look more closely at their cases and spend more time reviewing the medical evidence, which slowed ALJ productivity]] In March 2015, a new regulation requiring that claimants or their
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