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Congressman calls for investigation in Social Security Disability

In an earlier blog, we discussed the dismal prospects that many disabled people face with they file for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) -- particularly in Tennessee.

An explosive article by the USA TODAY NETWORK uncovered shocking problems in the system used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to decide each claim. Essentially, each state has its own central processing spot, known as its Disability Determination Services (DDS). There, a team of professionals is supposed to assemble all of the paperwork for each application, and a doctor is supposed to carefully review the evidence before making a decision.

According to reports uncovered by investigators, however, some of those doctors were spending just minutes with each claim. The doctors in charge of making life-altering decisions on disability applications are paid by the case, so some of them are maximizing their time each day -- often reviewing up to five claims per hour (despite most files having hundreds or thousands of pages and complex tests that need to be reviewed).

In Tennessee, evidence uncovered the fact that doctors at the DDS are paid a flat rate of somewhere between $30 to $47 to review each claim. Some of those doctors are managing to bill $400,000 a year for their service. The math, there, is staggering.

United States Representative John Larson has formally requested an investigation by the government's fiscal watchdog, the U.S. Government Accountability Office. It's time to find out exactly what these doctors are billing for -- because an unfair denial hurts both the individual disability applicant and the public at large. It forces the applicant to go through a lengthy appeals process, which bogs down the system and has to be paid for all over again by the government (since the cases have to be reworked and reviewed all over again or even sent to an administrative law judge (ALJ) for a decision).

It's uncertain if an investigation will actually take place -- but there's hope. In the meantime, if you're filing a claim for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income, get experienced representation on your side.

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