Saturday, September 12, 2009

GAO study says SSA could work harder to reduced disability claim backlogs

(SSA) has experienced processing delays and significant backlogs of disability claims at the hearings level. In May 2007, SSA began implementing a plan for eliminating the hearings backlog entitled Summary of Initiatives to Eliminate the SSA Hearings Backlog (the Plan). In response to a congressional request, GAO (1) examined the Plan’s potential to eliminate the hearings-level backlog, (2) determined the extent to which the Plan included components of sound planning, and (3) identified potential unintended effects of the Plan on hearings-level operations and other aspects of the disability process. To address these objectives, GAO analyzed SSA data, conducted a risk analysis, assessed the Plan and its update—the May 2009 Draft Appomattox Plan—using planning criteria identified in previous GAO work, interviewed SSA officials, and conducted site visits in three SSA regions.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that SSA develop additional performance measures and cost estimates for its critical initiatives, as well as conduct an analysis of risks associated with Plan implementation and identify steps to address them. SSA said that it has taken or has planned actions to develop performance measures as appropriate. SSA disagreed that it should develop further cost estimates, but agreed it should conduct risk analyses and outlined steps it is taking to do so.

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