The Process Gets Quicker for People with the Worst Disabilities

President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act on August 14, 1935, and gave birth to the agency we know as the Social Security Administration (SSA). As the largest governmental program in the world, accounting for almost one-fourth of the federal budget, the SSA has made strides to improve claims processing, customer service and hearing administration. On October 13, 2010, it was announced that the Administration had published its final rules, which would reduce the application processing time for those people with severe disabilities.

The new rules provide for disability determination examiners to decide claims without medical and psychological consultant approvals under the Quick Disability Determination (QDD) and Compassionate Allowance processes. The QDD is a predictive computer model that analyses data within the electronic disability file, and the Compassionate Allowances process identifies a number of diseases and conditions that invariably qualify under the Listing of Impairments. Early this year, the Administration expanded the list to include a number of physical impairments and mental impairments, including early-onset Alzheimer's and mixed dementia, which require minimal medical documentation to prove.

When President Bush proposed Social Security "reform" in 2005, disability-hearing backlogs had been a problem. The SSA had begun the process of hiring more support staff and administrative law judges; those changes helped to process more complicated Social Security claims.

Under these new final rules, which become effective November 12, 2010, more than 100,000 disabled individuals have already benefited from the "fast-track" processes, which resulted in some decisions being made in days as compared to months and years. The rationale behind the fast track for processing claims is that using the new streamlined criteria allows the agency to allocate more resources and staff to the more complicated applications.

For nearly eight decades, the SSA has helped the elderly and disabled citizens and their families. Important for helping families cope in these tough economic times, expedited disability claims will ensure that recipients receive needed financial support and medical assistance. In the wave of government reforms, the SSA continues to fulfill its mission of providing needed support to the most vulnerable citizens in our nation.