SSA Acting Commissioner Warns Post-COVID Service Levels Will Continue To Suffer As SSDI Hearing Wait Times Surge
Acting Social Security Commissioner Dr. Kilolo Kijakazi delivered discouraging news to disability applicants and their advocates today at the annual meeting of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) in Austin, Texas.
While acknowledging the $850 million budget boost this year, Dr. Kijakazi warned funding for staff and service delivery at the federal and the state Disability Determination Services levels fell well short of the agency’s $1.4 billion budget request.
“Service to the public will suffer,” she said. “We won’t be able to reduce the backlog of claims due to COVID-19.” There will continue to be “a deterioration of initial decisions, reconsiderations and hearings.”
Dr. Kijakazi also reported that SSDI and SSI claimants and NOSSCR members should be prepared for a substantial jump in hearing-level wait times. The agency had projected FY2022 wait times of 375 days, in addition to an estimated 372-day combined wait at the initial application and reconsideration levels. The agency’s new forecast calls for a startling rise for those requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) – to about 570 days in FY2023.
Allsup and other sources project there are currently 1.3 million former workers moving through all four administrative levels of the SSDI program.
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