Social Security Disability Programs: Survey of Disability Determination Services Directors

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This document presents selected results of GAO’s web-based survey of directors of state agencies responsible for determining whether Social Security disability beneficiaries remain eligible for benefits, given their current medical condition. These agencies, called Disability Determination Services, conduct periodic continuing disability reviews to determine whether beneficiaries’ medical conditions have improved and whether they are able to work. The purpose of this survey was to gather information from the directors on whether the medical improvement standard—the standard used to conduct these reviews—poses any special challenges for the Social Security Administration when determining whether beneficiaries continue to be eligible for benefits. We asked the directors about particular elements of the standard and how these elements, alone or in combination with other factors, may impact continuing disability review outcomes (whether or not a beneficiary continues to receive benefits). We sent this survey to the 55 Disability Determination Services directors in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Western Pacific Islands and the federal Disability Determination Service. We received 54 completed surveys for a response rate of 98 percent.

A more detailed discussion of our scope and methodology is contained in our report Social Security Disability Programs: Clearer Guidance Could Help SSA Apply the Medical Improvement Standard More Consistently GAO-07-8 (Washington, D.C.: October 3, 2006). We administered this survey from March 2006 to May 2006 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

Instructions for Viewing this Survey

How to View The Surveys

  • Click on the Table of Contents link located in the lower right of this screen. To read to the bottom of the screen, you may need to use your scroll bar on the right side of this screen.
  • The first screen in the survey is an introduction and general information that was sent to and viewed by recipients of the survey. There are no survey results to view on this screen. This screen is for information only and you may by-pass it by clicking on Next located at the bottom of the screen in the lower right.
  • The survey may have links to allow respondents to bypass inapplicable questions (skip patterns). While these were active links during the data collection period, they have now been disabled.
  • When a respondent wrote a narrative response to a question, we sometimes present the percent of respondents making a comment.

How to View the Responses for Each Question

  • To view the responses to each question, click on the question number (Links to survey questions will look like this: 1., etc.).
  • After viewing the responses to each question, click on the "x" in the upper right corner of your screen to close that window and return to the questionnaire.

How to Return to a Page That You Previously Visited

  • To return to the last screen you viewed, click the Previous button on the lower right corner of the screen.
  • Click the Next button to advance to the next screen.

How to Make the Font Larger on Your Screen

  • You can make the font larger by changing your browser setting. For example, on Internet Explorer you can change the font size by going to View and selecting Text Size.

Contact Information?

  • If you have questions concerning these data, please contact Robert E. Robertson at (202) 512-7215 or
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