If anything, we would expect Social Security staff and administrative law judges (“ALJ”s) to be working more, given the growing caseload that they face in processing the nation’s disability benefits applicants. On normal days, ALJs throughout the country make a decision on some 3,000 cases. A recent Wall Street Journal article uncovered that just a few weeks ago on Monday, September 26, ALJs only handled a total of 230. What was the reason for the severe shortfall?
According to the investigation behind the article, the reason was politics and bureaucratic apathy. The article alleges that Social Security administrators ordered ALJs to push their case decisions into the following week in order to take advantage of a “free week” in the government fiscal year. Its fiscal year is 52 weeks, but a calendar year is slightly longer than that, so that every several years, there is a week that comes between the end of one fiscal year and the start of the next one. As a result, everything done during the free week does not go towards meeting any incentives or targets.
The president of the American Federation of Government Employees labor union commented, “It’s an indication of the philosophy of how the agency operates, that the numbers are more important than the service.” Acts like these do not help to improve the reputation that the disability process has for being slow and unresponsive. Have you had any difficulties with service from the Social Security Administration? Our Tulsa Oklahoma SSI lawyers would be interested in hearing your feedback following the post.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability attorneys