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social security article in Washington Post


Senior Member
planet earth

Article in Washington Post about social security backlog etc..I'm not in good enough shape to discuss at the moment. Trying to avoid the computer.

Social Security is best-known for sending benefits to seniors. But it also pays out disability benefits to people who can’t work because of mental or physical ailments. And it runs an enormous decision-making bureaucracy to sort out who is truly disabled enough to get the checks — and who is trying to game the system.



Senior Member

Very infomative article I have bookmarked this.

There are so many problems with the Social Security disability process. While some snafus are predictable in any bureaucracy, this is beyond the pale.

Several years ago, more judges were hired but the backlog persists. The fact that each judge has to personally read all of the medical reports without help from a clerk, slows the process even more.

I really liked the idea of not having judges decide disability cases. Fortunately, I have private disability and while you still need to show you are disabled, a panel of medical experts makes the decision and the wait time is greatly reduced. In my case, less than one month after filing the papers and I got paid retroactively from the date I was officially unable to work.

The monthly allotments quoted in the article seemed high compared to others I have known who get SSDI. Years ago when I was in social services, it was said 90% of cases are automatically turned down the first time. I need to do some research about the latter as I may have been misinformed.

I could write a book here but the following says a lot.

That is slow work, made slower by a pileup of outdated rules and oddball procedures. The judges’ official list of jobs, for instance, is a Depression-era relic last updated in 1991. It still includes “telegram messenger” and “horse-and-wagon driver” — not exactly growth industries. It doesn’t mention the Internet at all

Thanks for posting this, especially at a time where you are feeling worse than usual.

They definitely need someone other than their own bureaucrats deciding cases ... it creates a problem such as is seen with ATOS in the UK, where employees are expected to perform in certain ways, and given implicit or explicit rejection quotas. The judges involved are on the bench for life, which gives them a great deal of control over themselves, whereas even outside experts might be worried about not having contracts renewed if they don't reject enough people.

I think the major problem is with the earlier assessments. There should be very few people successfully appealing, because that first stage should primarily be weeding out people who are realistically able to work. Yet a lot of people are having to appeal repeatedly and getting approved by a judge, even when excluding the judges who say "yes" to almost everyone, or the times when judges were pressured to meet a quota which was only attainable if they didn't have to write up the reasons for rejection, and thus approved many cases without proper review.

The first stage has turned into a knee-jerk "NO" reaction, which has made it a functionally useless, expensive, and time-consuming part of a bureaucratic process.