For months now, the Social Security Administration has gloated about the vast improvements that the agency has undergone over the course of the last few years. They’ve saved money by cutting office hours and switching to direct deposit. And by adding more illnesses and disabilities to the Compassionate Allowances list, they’ve also decreased the wait time for many applicants across the nation.
But despite this seemingly good news, there hides a surprising truth about the SSD system; a truth that could have a major effect on the number of benefit claims that get processed each month.
According to complaints from past and present employees for the SSA and for the states’ Disability Determination Services, the agencies responsible for approving and denying benefits to disabled people are not only denying benefits to people who need them but are punishing their employees for complaining about these practices.
Take the example of a New Mexico woman who worked for her state’s Disability Determination Services. She claims that because of her husband’s failing health she needed to take time off from her job. But when she returned to work, she says, management punished her by putting her on performance review. She claims that the retaliation and hostility that was geared towards her after her return inevitably led to the wrongful termination of her job.
But stories such as this aren’t occurring just in New Mexico; they could very well be happening here in Illinois as well. With adjudicators-the people who process disability claims through the SSD process-being fired or leaving because of hostile working environments, many claims are falling by the wayside. In many of these cases, there are disabled people who desperately need benefits in order to eat and pay rent.
With so many concerns surrounding employment violations, many people here in Illinois wonder if this could turn into a serious legal situation. Unfortunately, this would trap a lot of beneficiaries in the middle of something that could take years to sort out.
Source: Santa Fe Reporter, “Can anyone fix social security’s broken benefits system?” Joey Peters, Feb. 26, 2013