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Congress asks SSA to investigate alleged SSD slowdown

Last month, we discussed a report in the Wall Street Journal that accused Social Security Administration employees and judges of intentionally slowing their work on Social Security Disability cases in order to increase their productivity in the new fiscal year. Following that report, several members of Congress have asked the SSA's inspector general to investigate whether those allegations were actually true.

In the article, the Wall Street Journal stated that the managers of SSA offices in California and throughout the country had asked administrative law judges and other SSA employees to slow their work on SSD applications and appeals during the final week of the 2011 fiscal year. This would make the offices appear more productive in the new fiscal year and increase the managers' chances of receiving significant monetary bonuses.

In a statement, an SSA spokesperson all but confirmed that managers were asking employees to slow down. "Based on available data, it does appear some judges are holding cases," the spokesperson said, "which is counter to our policy."

SSA policies dictate that the final week of the year does not factor into the fiscal calendar. The spokesperson also stated that the agency will likely discontinue that practice in coming years to avoid this situation.

If the allegations are true, it means that thousands of disabled Americans who are in desperate need of financial assistance were forced to wait at least an extra week to learn if they could begin receiving SSD benefits. Currently, approximately 750,000 people are waiting for a decision on their SSD application, and more than 3 million are projected to apply for benefits this year.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Probe Sought Into Disability Delays," Damian Paletta, Oct. 7, 2011

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