For years, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has experienced challenges managing a large disability workload and making timely decisions. In fiscal year 2006, SSA made about 3.7 million disability claims decisions, while over a million were awaiting a decision. Further, SSA has faced staffing challenges and difficulties managing its workloads at its network of approximately 1,300 field offices, where millions of people go to apply for disability and retirement benefits, to obtain Social Security cards, and for a host of other services. The Subcommittees on Income Security and Family Support, and on Social Security, House Committee on Ways and Means, asked GAO to address (1) key service delivery challenges facing SSA, particularly with respect to the backlog of disability claims, and (2) steps SSA is taking to address these challenges. This testimony is based primarily on reports assessing trends in disability claims processing and backlogs, steps SSA is taking to reduce the backlog, and other challenges SSA faces in meeting future service delivery needs. Certain information was updated to reflect recent legislative changes.
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