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Feb 14, 2007

Institute Of Medicine Strikes Out

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies has issued a report entitled "Improving the Social Security Disability Decision Process", which is available for the bargain price of $36.90. Before you buy it, you may want to read all the way to the end of their blurb on the study:
The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a time saving screening tool called the Listing of Impairments (Listings) to identify individuals who meet the Social Security definition of disability, but it is concerned with a substantial drop in the percentage of claims granted disability benefits based on the Listings over the past 25 years.

At the request of the SSA, the Institute of Medicine formed a committee which issued the report; Improving the Social Security Disability Decision Process, addressing the medical aspects of disability determination and recommending improvements. The committee recommended the SSA:
  • Investigate the reliability and validity of the Listings as a tool for identifying the truly disabled;
  • Incorporate condition-specific functional assessment tools in the Listings that demonstrate a strong correlation with work disability;
  • Strengthen the process for revising and updating the Listings;
  • Expand medical and functional expertise at the staff level; and,
  • Establish an external advisory committee system
The committee concluded that a better mechanism than the Listings does not exist at this time, although it recommends that SSA monitor and support promising alternative approaches to disability assessment.
One day I would like to read a report from one of these beltway bandits that says "There is no solution to the problem, so quit wasting your money on consultants." Instead we always get studies that advise things like setting up "an external advisory committee system" or "support promising alternative approaches", with the authors of the study being ready, willing and able -- for a hefty price -- to set up and man these external advisory committees and explore the "promising alternative approaches."
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