The Social Security Administration Needs To Improve Its Disability Claims Process

HRD-78-40: Published: Feb 16, 1978. Publicly Released: Feb 16, 1978.

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The Social Security Administration's (SSA) procedures for processing approved disability insurance claims were reviewed to determine if the process could be improved. The review covered claims processing steps at the Bureau of Disability Insurance and at district offices and included an analysis of a sample of 498 approved disability insurance claims processed by 15 SSA district offices.

The disability claims processing function in district offices has not been effectively managed by the SSA. Forty-six percent of the sample claims reviewed were delayed unnecessarily; the number of claims delayed unnecessarily varied from 10 percent to 78 percent at the 15 district offices. Controls designed to assure prompt processing and timely payment of disability claims in district offices and to guard against loss or misplaced files are inadequate and, in some cases, nonexistent. SSA has failed to provide district offices with claims processing standards, to monitor the computer-generated alerts to determine adequacy and usefulness, and to assure that adequate and accurate management information is provided to operating managers. The need for review by SSA headquarters of claims containing conspicuous characteristics is questionable.

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