Social Security Disability:

SSA Is Making Progress Toward Eliminating Continuing Disability Review Backlogs

T-HEHS-97-222: Published: Sep 25, 1997. Publicly Released: Sep 25, 1997.

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GAO discussed the Social Security Administration's (SSA) plan to eliminate the backlog of continuing disability reviews (CDRs) in the Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs, focusing on: (1) SSA's progress toward achieving its current 7-year plan cost-effectively and on schedule; (2) SSA's spending rate; and (3) the status of selection formulas needed to meet future goals.

GAO noted that: (1) SSA's experience in CDRs during fiscal year 1997 is encouraging; (2) for 1997, SSA expects to meet or exceed its goal to conduct 603,000 CDRs; (3) for 1998, SSA is planning to increase its goal because it was able to meet its 1997 goal, while also processing at least 235,000 SSI childhood eligibility redeterminations; (4) reviewing more cases sooner than planned, to the extent possible, is clearly desirable because of the high costs--in taxpayer dollars and program integrity--of continuing benefits to those who are no longer eligible; (5) in addition, SSA's spending to date and estimates of future processing costs suggest that it will be able to complete its current 7-year plan with the funds the Congress has authorized, although its revised plan will not be available until November 1997; and (6) key issues, however, such as deciding which beneficiaries should undergo a full medical review--a lengthy and costly process--are still unresolved but will determine how quickly and at what cost SSA can become current on its CDR workload.

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