Declining Social Security Administration Staff May Impact Disability Claims Processing
A recent article (found here: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1136769) discussed changing employment figures within the Social Security Administration—and how those changing figures could affect disability claimants in general.
As of December 2012, the SSA had 64,538 employees. While this may sound like a large number, in December 2010, the SSA had 70,270 employees. And this loss of almost 6,000 workers—due to a number of federal budget cuts—seriously impacts the disability claims process.
Among other direct effects, cuts to the agency lead to complete office closings and reduced hours in many offices that remain open. Even before the most recent set of federal budget cuts, the SSA announced that it would begin closing 1,200 offices 30 minutes earlier each day. These moves cause the SSA to be decreasingly up to helping frustrated claimants, to speedily answering questions, and to resolving problems in the claims process.
“If your medical and work histories are incomplete,” said one industry professional, “or if your application has errors, SSA likely isn’t going to have the resources to help you straighten things out and your claim can be denied.”
The SSA still has many live phone representatives on hand to help individuals navigate the thorny landscape of disability claims (claimants can reach the SSA at 1-800-772-1213). But, while the hours where representatives can be reached are officially between 7am and 7pm, the administration’s website acknowledges that callers are often by long waits. And, to help reduce those wait times, the agency actually recommends calling on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday (days which, apparently, see fewer calls).
With almost 200,000 physical visitors to Social Security offices per day—and nearly 450,000 phone calls made per day to the SSA’s call centers—the ever-increasing strain on the agency’s manpower will almost certainly manifest in longer wait times and more frustrated claimants.
For more on the cutbacks, see http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/the-best-life/2012/10/19/social-security-makes-even-more-public-service-cuts.