Federal Budget Woes Add to Delay in Processing Social Security Disability Benefits

The Federal Budget drama has spiraled many effects through the economy. States cut Medicaid budgets and other safety-net services, and even Social Security feels the effect. In the Washington Post today, we read Lisa Rein’s article about rising applications and falling resources to process them.

” Claims for Social Security and disability benefits have grown in recent years, the result of baby boomer retirements and high unemployment. The Social Security Administration received 10 million new claims in 2009, up from about 8.2 million in 2004.
With 65 percent of new disability claims initially denied, appeals began piling up, and administrative law judges who hear these cases were overwhelmed.

“By August 2008, an appeal took an average of 532 days to resolve. The agency hired judges and support staff to speed up the process, and by last year the average appeal took 390 days. There was still a backlog of 705,370 pending hearings.

But progress has been undermined by the budget impasse affecting most federal agencies, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. Without a budget for the current fiscal year, the Social Security staff has had to cut short its efforts to improve efficiency…”