On June 12th of this year it was announced that the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee approved a fiscal year 2013 bill that will provide the government with $158.8 billion in current year discretionary funding. Exactly what does this mean? That the government has more than $158 billion dollars to spend to improve programs to help American citizens. The question is what exactly does this mean for the Social Security Administration (SSA)?
Under the bill, the SSA is being given an addition $268 million to spend on the process of continuing disability reviews and redeterminations of nonmedical eligibility under the Social Security Income program. Analysts estimate that in the long run this investment will save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs approximately $8.1 billion over the next ten years. That’s means for every $1 spent, the SSA will receive an $8 return on investment.
Saving the SSA programs desperately-needed money is not all this bill is doing for the SSA. It appears that the bill will also help those who must appeal a denial of their initial Social Security Disability claim.
Everyone who has had to deal with the Social Security Disability application process is well aware of the horror stories regarding backlogs of disability claims that are not heard for months or even years because the administrative law judges just can’t keep up with the workflow. However, this new pill includes a $290 million increase that is intended to help the SSA eliminate the backlog of disability hearings by the end of fiscal year 2013. If the effort is successful, this may mean that disability applicants will no longer have to wait years to have their case heard before an administrative law judge and the disability appeal process will move more quickly, enabling claimants to get their benefits faster if they are able to successfully overturn the SSA’s initial denial.
While the SSA has been faced with significant financial hardships in recent years and many people have been crying out for Social Security reform, this is definitely a step in the right direction. While this bill will not alleviate all of the woes being faced by the SSA, it will help the administration save much-needed money by ensuring Social Security program integrity. And unlike many bills, this is a bill that will have an actual impact that can be seen by the people applying for SSDI or SSI as the bill aims to eliminate the backlog of hearings that are currently in the system – a backlog that is the primary reason it takes most applicants so long to receive their first disability payment from the SSA.