Current Status of the Federal/State Arrangement for Administering the Social Security Disability Programs

HRD-85-71: Published: Sep 30, 1985. Publicly Released: Oct 30, 1985.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the operations of four state disability determination services (DDS) and the oversight responsibility of the Social Security Administration (SSA) to determine: (1) the effectiveness of the joint federal/state administration of the Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs; and (2) whether the federal government should take over the entire administration of these programs.

GAO found that: (1) state laws and practices influence or control many administrative aspects of the programs' operations; (2) conflicts between SSA directives and state laws and practices caused inordinate delays in hiring additional personnel to handle increased workloads; (3) there was a significant variance among examiners' caseloads; (4) staffing composition and entry-level requirements varied widely among the states; and (5) the lack of uniformity was caused, in part, by SSA failure to regulate DDS administrative practices. GAO examined two alternatives to the present arrangement: (1) total federalization, with SSA administering all disability determination functions; and (2) contracting out, with private entities administering these functions. GAO found that: (1) total federalization would add more than 11,000 employees to the federal rolls; and (2) contracting out would raise a number of concerns as to the suitability of having such complicated and expensive programs run by the private sector. GAO found no evidence that a change from the current arrangement would produce better disability decisions or achieve program cost savings. GAO plans to address SSA management and administration in the areas of: (1) vocational rehabilitation; (2) consultative examinations; (3) decentralization of DDS; and (4) implementation of changes mandated by the 1984 disability amendments.

Dec 1, 2020

Nov 18, 2020

Oct 1, 2020

Aug 21, 2020

Aug 13, 2020

Aug 10, 2020

Jul 29, 2020

Jul 9, 2020

Jun 17, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here