Newspaper Receives Award for Investigative Reporting of Social Security Backlogs

Over the past year, the newspaper The Oregonian, Portland and Oregon’s local paper, has been running a series carefully documenting the devastating delays at the Social Security hearing offices, putting a human face on this non-comedy of errors and underfunding. Brent Walth and Bryan Denson of The Oregonian have just won the prestigious Bruce Baer Award for Investigative Reporting, for uncovering the enormous backlog of disability claims in the Social Security system. The articles showed that while claims management is a nationwide problem, Social Security Administration’s Portland office has one of the slowest case-completion rates in the country. The reporters found several cases in which claimants died while waiting for a benefits determination from the office: On average, it takes nearly two years for the Portland office to handle the appeal of a case.