The National Association of Disability Examiners (NADE), an organization of the disability examiners who make determinations on disability claims for Social Security at the initial and reconsideration levels, has issued its Spring 2012 newsletter. Here's an excerpt from a summary of a meeting between the NADE Board and several Social Security officials:
SSA [Social Security Administration and the DDS [Disability Determination Services] can expect a continued decrease in the national budget. All departments, including SSA, are facing an across the board funding cut of nine percent (9%) next fiscal year barring a legislative change in the law. The projections is that close to 3,000 DDS employees have been lost since Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 to attrition with only the ability to hire 200 critically needed employees nationwide. The loss of each examiner equates to a loss of work on 600 claims. ... Last FY the DDS had 59,000 staged claims awaiting assignment [to a disability examiner]. Currently there are 106,000 staged claims and SSA anticipates there will be 170,000 staged claims by the end of this fiscal year [September 30, 2012]. The Continuing Disability Review (CDR) workload has been set at 435,000 for FY 2012 with the potential for a dramatic increase for CDRs next fiscal year, depending upon the budget.Note the inherent conflict between doing Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) to determine whether claimants are still disabled and doing reviews of new disability claims. Congress has ordered that there be great increases in the number of CDRs at a time when the agency is not being given enough funds to review new disability claims. Inevitably, this creates a large and constantly increasing backlog of new claims awaiting adjudication. This conflict may become dramatically worse next year because Social Security may be forced to do dramatically more CDRs next year with a dramatically lower appropriation.