On October 26, 2023, leaders from the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) did something remarkable. They took to the House Ways and Means Committee floor to amplify the voices of those often relegated to whispers: Social Security disability applicants.
The organization speaks on behalf of thousands of professionals dedicated to representing these applicants, and they didn’t pull any punches during their testimony.
Interim CEO David Camp revealed the grim reality of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) deteriorating service quality. In his revealing testimony, Camp stressed that wait times for Social Security disability claims have nearly doubled since 2018. This unfortunate escalation is not a result of a surge in applications—quite the contrary, the volume has significantly decreased. As Camp noted, the real culprits are procedural roadblocks, primarily unnecessary byproducts of inefficient processes and outdated requirements.
What’s most worrisome about these procedural roadblocks is that they have the most devastating effects on the most vulnerable among us: the disabled, the homeless, and the terminally ill. These people are in a race against time for benefits that can often be lifesaving.
So, what can be done to resolve this?
Camp offered several commonsense solutions, but let’s focus on one game-changer: relying on treating physicians for medical evaluations rather than third-party paid examiners.
The current practice of utilizing third-party examiners is fundamentally flawed. These examiners don’t have the same familiarity with applicants’ medical histories as their treating physicians. As a result, their evaluations are often inaccurate, leading to further delays and squandering valuable resources. By relying on treating physicians, we could significantly expedite the process and reduce erroneous denials without incurring additional costs to the system.
NOSSCR’s testimony was not just a moment—it’s a movement toward bringing a much-needed change in how we handle Social Security disability claims. Their voice, amplified through the platform provided by the House Ways and Means Committee, represents a collective cry for justice and efficiency. Their words echo the sentiments of thousands of professionals and, most importantly, more than a million Social Security disability applicants awaiting their decisions.