Disability Insurance:

Broader Management Focus Needed to Better Control Caseload

T-HEHS-95-164: Published: May 23, 1995. Publicly Released: May 23, 1995.

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GAO discussed the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) program, focusing on the Social Security Administration's (SSA) initiatives to manage program growth. GAO noted that: (1) the number of disabled beneficiaries has significantly increased in the past 10 years, mainly due to increasing applications and awards, expansions in eligibility criteria, program outreach, and poor economic conditions; (2) the number of DI beneficiaries who also receive supplemental security income has increased 107 percent since 1985; (3) the huge increase in applications and appeals has resulted in huge backlogs for state disability determination services, although backlogs have decreased from their peak in 1992; (4) SSA is implementing 19 short-term initiatives to address its increasing workload; (5) SSA expects to implement a long-term disability reengineering effort over a 6-year period ending in 2000; (6) an increasingly smaller proportion of beneficiaries leave the rolls because of the trend toward younger, mentally impaired adults entering the program and the fear of losing benefits by returning to work; (7) SSA is using computer profiling and beneficiary mail questionnaires to reduce its backlog; and (8) SSA is developing new strategies to employ people with disabilities, but it is too early to assess its efforts.

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