Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) faces significant administrative challenges, largely due to the continuing failure of Congress to adequately fund the Social Security Administration (SSA). Increases in SSA’s workload have not been matched by increases in administrative resources.
One consequence of this insufficient funding is the large and growing backlog of SSDI benefit determinations. Beneficiaries often wait months for an initial determination and another year for a decision at the next level of review. The bottleneck is at the hearings level, where applicants can present their case to an administrative law judge. Despite efforts to streamline and improve the process, backlogs and waiting times have generally increased since 2000, and annual average wait times have hovered around 18 months for several years.
Sufficient funding would allow SSA to invest in technology that would improve program operations and guide program management. Improved research and data analytics could provide information about program integrity, effectiveness, and efficiency.
SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY INSURANCE ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCING: Policy
The Social Security Administration (SSA) must have sufficient resources and staff to ensure stable, effective management of the disability programs.
Research and analysis
SSA should collect and report sufficient data to ensure program integrity, to allow for research about the impact of the program, and to monitor the experience of applicants and beneficiaries.