» House Committee Opens Hearings On Inefficiencies In SSA Disability Program

House Committee Opens Hearings On Inefficiencies In SSA Disability Program

Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) December 27, 2013 - The United States House Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care and Entitlements has opened hearings with testimony on the SSA’s struggles with its disability program.

A subcommittee of the House Oversight and Oversight Reform Committee launched hearings November 19 on the Social Security Administration. The Republican-controlled body headlined its mission on the committee website as one of overseeing the SSA’s “mismanagement of federal disability programs.”

The SSA officials who offered opening statements did acknowledge some of their agency’s ongoing problems. Inspector General Patrick P. O’Carroll Jr. shed some light on the reasons that he believes the SSA has been bedeviled by backlogs and lost savings for disability claims.

He stressed in his testimony to the House Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care and Entitlements that an increasing number of claims has left the SSA overwhelmed and struggling to process disability claims in a timely manner. This, he maintained, left the agency vulnerable to fraud and abuse.

According to O’Carroll, the number and completion rate of two of the SSA’s most effective means for identifying and eliminating cases of fraud — continuing full medical disability reviews and Supplemental Security Income re-determinations — were not keeping pace with the number of disability claims filed. And O’Carroll provided some figures on CDRs and re-determinations that put the agency’s challenges in perspective, including the following:

* A March 2010 report found that the SSA’s completed CDRs declined by 65 percent from fiscal year 2004 to 2008. Had the CDRs been completed when due, the SSA would have avoided paying at least $556 million during calendar year 2011.

* In a September 2013 review, the SSA found that it had not been able to complete 201,000 high-error profile re-determinations in fiscal year 2011. Had those re-determinations been completed, the SSA would have avoided making at least $228.5 million in additional improper payments.

The inspector general suggested that insufficient funding was a major reason that the SSA has not been able to meet many of its goals on disability claims. He detailed in numerically stark terms the mounting backlog of review work — such as CDRs — the agency has yet to process.

“SSA’s goal based on its FY2013 budget request was to conduct 650,000 full medical CDRs, but given the actual funding it received, the agency has reported that it conducted 428,568,” O’Carroll said. “SSA expected a backlog of 1.3 million full medical CDRs to remain at the end of FY2013. This is an increase over the FY2012 year-end backlog of 1.2 million.”

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