With the overwhelming backlog of Social Security Disability claims that are currently in the Social Security System, one would think that the Social Security Administration is doing everything they possibly can to clear up that backlog as quickly as possible. Surprisingly, that has not been the case in the past week.
Social Security Administration employees have been given notice and have been told to slow down on the approval of Social Security Disability claims. The reason? Top SSA officials want their bonuses and promotions and if they don't meet certain fiscal goals, those wants will not be realized. Unfortunately, Social Security Disability applicants are the ones who will have to pay for these bonuses and promotions in the form of delays in the application processing of their Social Security Disability applications.
Social Security employees and administrative law judges in the states of Florida, Alabama, Colorado, Tennessee, Georgia, Arizona and Ohio were clearly instructed to set aside Social Security Disability cases for a week. This week-long delay will allow the Social Security Administration managers to boost their performance numbers for the upcoming fiscal year. The question is, are these actions ethical? Can you really put disability applications on hold in an attempt to play with goal-related numbers and statistics?
When asked why the directive was given, SSA officials blamed the calendar. Apparently, there was a glitch in the fiscal calendar allotting the SSA 53 weeks instead of 52. That one week of approvals could significantly impact the SSA's numbers because the applications that are completed during that week would not count towards the annual targets that have been set for the Social Security field offices and the Social Security administrative law judges. Apparently, the solution that was decided upon was to simply put the approval of benefits on hold for a week.
So just how big were the ramifications of this decision? On a normal day the Social Security Administration closes out approximately 3,000 cases. On Monday of last week, it closed out just 230. There was not a single case closed in the Boston and Denver regions. Seattle closed one single case. With a backlog of cases that needs to be caught up on, you would think the SSA would do as much as they can to close out as many cases as possible regardless of fiscal budgetary goals.
A Social Security spokesperson admitted that holding cases is against Social Security policy. He also admitted that the facts indicate that some judges have indeed been putting things on hold. However, what measures were being taken to address the situation were never brought to light.
Unfortunately, greed seems to have overcome common sense in this situation. While bonuses and promotions are important to the few, the disability benefits that have yet to be awarded are what are important to the many. The SSA seems to forget that they work for the taxpayers and not for themselves. Perhaps those who made the call should be held responsible for those actions and those promotions and bonuses they were working for should be withheld due to their lack of ethical conduct.