Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commission of Social Security, recently unveiled a new initiative to expedite disability claims. This new process is expected to speed up disability claims for only veterans with a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation rating of 100% Permanent & Total (P&T).
We couldn't agree more. Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country, and they should have timely access to the Social Security Disability benefits they may be eligible for and deserve.
But one group that Ms. Colvin failed to acknowledge was non-veteran Social Security Disability applicants. We firmly believe that this group should also have timely access to the Social Security Disability benefits they may be eligible for and deserve.
It's no secret that the Social Security Administration has come under fire recently for many reasons. The increasing backlog of disability claims is certainly one of them. And there's no doubt that positive publicity gained by Ms. Colvin's move was a ploy to shine a hopeful light on the Administration's shortcomings. As of yet, there have been no initiatives announced to expedite all disability claims.
Unfortunately, this new initiative will fall short and provide little in the way of real change for the majority of disability applicants. With an average wait time for disability claims awaiting final decisions exceeding 3 years, there is no such thing as 'timely access' to disability benefits. It's easy to see where the real change is needed.
The announcement, which came on February 19th, indicated that "[u]nder the new process, Social Security will treat these veterans' applications as high priority and issue expedited decisions." The expediting of these claims does not necessarily mean they will be granted. It will, however, essentially push these claims to the front of the lines, further delaying the processing of all other claims. Although this new initiative may, on the surface, appear to be beneficial to our veterans, it is easy to see that there are far bigger challenges ahead for the majority of Social Security Disability applicants.
Source: Social Security Announces New Expedited Disability Process for Veterans, February 19, 2014.