In 2008, the Social Security Administration (SSA) outlined four goals it wishes to achieve by 2013. To those applying for disability benefits, the most important goal is improving the speed and quality of the disability process. Here are the ways that SSA is trying to meet this goal:
Quick Decisions for Clearly Disabled Claimants
In order to speed up the process for the most disabled claimants, SSA has established a “Quick Disability Determinations” process (QDD). Almost 3% of new cases are identified for QDD processing and almost 96% of those cases are awarded within six to eight days. Also, SSA’s “Compassionate Allowance” program also allows for the quick identification of individuals who are clearly disabled due to the terminal nature of their conditions. SSA expects to be fast tracking six to nine percent of initial applications by the end of 2012.
Online Filing of Disability Applications
SSA has implemented an online system in which individuals can file for Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income benefits. The goal is for claimants and their legal representatives to be able to conduct all of their business with SSA online. This will reduce the demands on Social Security employees who will be able to focus on preparing the claims for adjudication. SSA hopes to reach an online filing rate of 25% for initial applications by 2012.
Timely Updating of Policies and Procedures
SSA is focusing on updating their policies and procedures. For example, the Listings of Impairments is being updated to include rare diseases and conditions that represent clearly disabling conditions. SSA is also planning to replace the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, which is relied upon in determining whether there is any work the claimant can do, with updated definitions and objective measures of requirements of work.
A Common Processing System for DDS Offices
SSA is working to develop a common case processing system for each of the 54 DDS offices. Currently, each of these offices has a unique system, making any proposed changes very difficult. A common system will promote efficiency and improved quality of the application process.
Making it Easier For Disabled Individuals to Return to Work
SSA is continually updating its policies to allow for easier reentry into the workforce. It is in the best interest of all parties if a disabled individual experiences enough improvement to return to work. However SSA understands that disabled individuals may be unwilling to risk the benefits they are already receiving when they do not know if the improvement is permanent or if they will be able to meet the demands of a particular job.
Questions on how the SSA is continuing to improve the filing process? Visit them online at http://www.ssa.gov