*a copy of this letter was also sent to Rep. Brendan F. Boyle
December 14, 2018
The Honorable Bob Casey
393 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Casey:
On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, I write to endorse your bill, S. 3741, the “Social Security Disability Protection Act.” We applaud your leadership in developing legislation to stop the Social Security Administration (SSA) from reinstituting the reconsideration step of the disability adjudication process in the ten states where that step is not used.
Reinstatement of reconsideration, as SSA plans, will delay final adjudication of disability applications for an estimated 140,000 in the first year.
Specifically, SSA plans to reinstitute reconsideration in ten states: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and portions of California. This decision will extend the wait time for decisions for many applicants from an average of approximately 500 days to about 600 days, a 20 percent increase over what is already an unconscionably long period of time.
Widely regarded as a “rubber stamp” decision, few individuals are awarded benefits as a result of this step in the disability appeals process. But sadly, reinstatement of reconsideration is projected by SSA to affect an estimated 140,000 individuals in the first year. Of these, 106,000 will see lengthy delays in the adjudication of their claims, while an additional 35,000 are expected to give up on their applications and drop out of the process altogether.
As important, S. 3741 requires SSA to do what it should be doing now: Developing a detailed plan for improving the reconsideration step nationwide. Your bill:
- Requires SSA to provide Congress with a detailed plan of how the agency can improve or eliminate the reconsideration step of the disability adjudication process;
- Requires SSA to provide Congress with a detailed plan for how the agency intends to bring down case processing time for disability applicants; and
- Requires that SSA develop these plans in consultation with scholarly experts, advocates for the disabled, and other affected individuals.
The “Social Security Disability Protection Act” directs SSA to develop long-overdue and vitally important improvements to the adjudicative process it employs in evaluating disability applications. The National Committee applauds your leadership in this complex policy arena and is pleased to endorse this important legislation.
President and CEO