As part of its ongoing “Where Government Falls Apart” series, the Washington Post, on October 18, published an extensive expose of the bureaucratic challenges facing the Social Security Disability Insurance system.
“In an obscure corner of the federal bureaucracy, there is an office that is 990,399 cases behind,” the article begins. “That is Washington’s backlog of backlogs — a queue of waiting Americans larger than the populations of six different states. It is bigger even than the infamous backups at Veterans Affairs, where 526,000 people are waiting in line, and the patent office, where 606,000 applications are pending.”
Enrollment in the SSDI program has increased significantly in recent years. In fiscal year 2008, there were about 589,000 new applications for benefits, a figure that surged to more than 810,000 in fiscal year 2014.
Despite the critical tone, the story provides little in the way of analysis of why the number of applicants has increased, or any indication that any disability advocacy groups were interviewed for the article.
However, the article includes a thorough description of the various stages in the SSDI application process, as well as the demands the system imposes on the administrative law judges in charge of reviewing appeals when benefits are denied.
The full story can be read here.