The Des Moines Register recently ran an editorial decrying Social Security's enormous backlogs of hearings on disability claims. The paper said that "Congress needs to give the SSA the resources it needs while resisting the urge to strong-arm judges who appear to be too productive" but also said that the agency needs a "long term strategy" for reducing its hearing backlog. The problem with calling for a "long term strategy" for reducing the backlog is that no long term strategy can succeed in the absence of an adequate agency operating budget.
Iowa is represented in Congress by two Republican Senators, three Republican representatives and one Democratic representative. Congressional Republicans are the sole reason this hearing backlog problem exists. They stand in the way of Social Security getting an adequate administrative budget. Backlogs went up rapidly when Republicans controlled the House of Representatives while George W. Bush was President. They started going down once Democrats took control of the House in 2006 and gave the agency a bigger operating budget. The backlog continued to decrease until the 2010 election which put Republicans in control of the House of Representatives. At that point, the agency's operating budget went to hell. The hearing backlog did a U turn and started shooting up. The Republican majority in the House of Representatives is so deeply entrenched in gerrymandered districts that it is hard to imagine any change in the control of that body for many years into the future. The hearing backlog is rapidly heading to two years. These is nothing to prevent the backlog from going far higher than that. Claimants are losing their right to a hearing.