Doctor Revolt Shakes the Social Security Disability Program

Social Security Disability Insurance claims applications are soaring. Needless to say, the Social Security Administration is burdened with the task of processing and evaluating tens of thousands of these disability claims. They're not the only ones. Doctors are under fire to work faster and longer, with reduced payouts from Social Security Disability claims, according to the National Center for Policy Analysis.

The Social Security Disability Insurance program paid out $124 billion in benefits in 2010. In 2001, the agency paid out approximately $55 billion. In addition, backlog of pending appeals made by Social Security Disability applicants who had previously been denied had risen by over 400,000 in the same years' span.

The watchword of the day seems to be rush, rush, rush. However, doctors are warning that such changes and overhauls definitely threaten quality of their decisions. Increasing numbers of medical opinions are inaccurate because many of the specialists required to make such decisions don't have ample backgrounds outside their areas of expertise.

According to many doctors, the new policy and pay cuts to doctors for reviewing such cases, which takes up between an hour to an hour and a half, is believed to encourage doctors to award benefits to those who don't qualify for them, and conversely, end up denying disability benefits to those who need them.

Take for example, these scenarios. An eye doctor in Baltimore was assigned to review cases of back pain. A dermatologist reviewed the case of an individual who suffered a stroke. The list goes on. Doctors are under pressure to award benefits when ample research and review has not been completed, and has caused many to grow increasingly reluctant to engage in the review process altogether.

The concept of doctors operating outside of their specialty is alarming, most especially at a time when the disabled are in need of excellent and quality care and evaluation for their claim approval. Believe it or not, many doctors are dedicated to engaging in quality, effective and efficient health care and services. The healthcare industry has become increasingly mired in mounds of paperwork that directly, and negatively, affect the quality of hands-on and face-to-face health care offered in the country today.

While it's understandable that the Social Security Administration wants to reduce processing time, encouraging doctors to cross their lines of expertise may get those claims processed faster, but endangers their accuracy and further blurs the lines between the truly deserving and the non-deserving.

Social Security fraud is rampant today, and this move by the Social Security Administration is inclined not to help reduce inadvertent fraud or offer of benefits to those who don't deserve it in lieu of those who do.

Says neurologist Rodrigo Tauro, who has experience analyzing Social Security Administration cases for more than a decade, "the implication there was that you really didn't have to be that careful and study the whole thing, " he stated, referring to careful case evaluation and research. Quite simply, he quit following this change in attitude. Of the 140 Social Security Administration doctors, 45 left within several months.