Map of the Day: Disability Processing Times

Map credit: The Washington Post. Click on link to view the Post’s interactive version.

There’s a new crisis in the welfare state: longer waiting times for the processing of Social Security Administration disability claims. More than a million Americans wait in limbo, says The Washington Post. Though far from the worst, the slowdown in processing claims in Virginia — a state responsibility — has increased 129% between fiscal year 2019 and fiscal year 2022. Says the Post: The failure has left “thousands of poor disabled and increasingly desperate people without the benefits they need to survive.”

The article blames tight labor markets and staff shortages, obsolete technology, increasing medical evidence that must be reviewed, and shortages of physicians to review them. While the disability program is federally funded, states vet the claimants.

The COVID pandemic did not help matters. Most of the 14,400 state employees were sent home to work, says the Post. The SSA effectively closed down operations for months until laptops could be ordered and distributed. In the midst of the chaos, the SSA also implemented a new case-processing system, which required rejiggering of state processes.

I checked the Social Security data to see if part of the problem might have been a surge in the number of applications. But that doesn’t appear to be the case. Disability applications peaked at 1,926,000 in 2010 but have steadily declined year after year, almost like clockwork, to 1,211,000 in 2021. So, it’s not as if the system was overwhelmed by a flood of the disabled. The crisis appears to be a genuine bureaucratic meltdown in the face of the COVID pandemic and labor shortages.

Governor Glenn Youngkin made it a priority to address the backlog of unemployment-insurance applications brought on by the COVID epidemic. He should take a look at what’s happening with disability applications as well.


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25 responses to “Map of the Day: Disability Processing Times”

  1. DJRippert Avatar

    ” … obsolete technology …”

    “The SSA effectively closed down operations for months until laptops could be ordered and distributed. ”

    ” Most of the 14,400 state employees were sent home to work, says the Post.”

    Our state and federal governments don’t work.

    The feds can’t get laptops to workers even though the vast majority of school districts were able to get laptops to their students.

    Gov Northam eliminated the Secretary of Technology from a cabinet-level position but instituted a DEI leader at the cabinet level.

    When you elect fools you get foolishness.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      We had applications for TSA’s Global Entry status pending at the outbreak of COVID, awaiting interviews. Guess how that went (application fees lost at this point and we’ve given up.) Same useless unionized government workers…admittedly a less crucial program than disability.

      1. DJRippert Avatar

        The costs of government go up, up, up. One reason is government’s uncanny inability to effectively use technology.

    2. LarrytheG Avatar

      holy moly – you mean Texas sent home employees during Covid just like Northam did and so did other states…just like Northam did? geeze

      1. DJRippert Avatar

        Every white collar business sent their employees home. Only the private sector adapted quickly and kept going. The government did not.

  2. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    “Supreme Court Seems Ready to Back Web Designer Opposed to Same-Sex Marriage”

    Oh boy, oh boy! Anybody wanna join my No-Tax Xian Reform church?

    1. That depends. What reforms are you proposing?

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Our religious beliefs are that paying taxes is a mortal sin.

        1. Okay so far.

          Will I still be able to ride motorcycles?

          1. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Every Sunday through the sanctuary.

          2. I’m in!

    2. LarrytheG Avatar

      so “free speech” If you don’t like black folks or muslims or Asians, or transgenders, you don’t have to serve them?

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        It’s the Republican way…

  3. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Big deal. They’re disabled. It’s not like they’re going to get away.

  4. Lefty665 Avatar

    The SSDI approval process has been abysmal going back to Reagan’s hostility to it. Disconcerting that it’s getting even worse with 18 of the last 30 years under at least nominally sympathetic Dem administrations.

    1. It’s still be a few more years in the future, but I know I am not looking forward to dealing with Social Security Administration in any capacity.

      1. how_it_works Avatar

        By the time I retire, there will probably be no social security.

        Even if there is, I’m certainly not counting on it to keep me from living in a tent and eating dog food when I’m 70.

        1. Lefty665 Avatar

          Even with no changes SS will continue to be funded at around 60% of current levels through payroll taxes.

          SS was designed to supplement retirement savings, not replace them. Start retirement saving early and often. Compound interest is your friend, but it takes time to work its magic.

      2. Lefty665 Avatar

        When I signed up to start collecting SS it was surprisingly easy. They were good, and direct deposit has been flawless in subsequent years.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    Folks should read the article. The states run the programs. It was set up this way because Conservatives demanded the states run the program.

    So folks blame the govt and they should but is it govt per se that’s the problem? Most folks get their social security on time. Most retired state employees get their pensions on time and they get their health care and insurance.

    We take our prescriptions drugs with confidence that they are what they say they are and not counterfeit , contaminated, etc. We get passports, We get on air planes with confidence they’re not going to crash. Traffic signals work even with idiots running them.

    The point is , that not all govt fails and some govt actually works quite well so some of this goes back to that half-glass perspective.

    1. how_it_works Avatar

      “Traffic signals work even with idiots running them.”

      About a year and a half ago, I made a left turn against a red light every day for over a month.

      The VDOT-maintained traffic signal near my dad’s house wasn’t working correctly.

      The left-turn detector wasn’t working.

      I called VDOT about the problem as soon as I noticed it. It was really hard to miss–the light would NOT give you a green if you were in the left turn lane, no matter how long you waited. Not until someone pulled up in the adjacent through lane would it change (it’s one of those lights that gives the left turn and through lanes a green at the same time).

      It took VDOT over a month to fix it. I called them at least 10 times about the problem.

      They don’t give a crap. That’s the only conclusion I can come to.

    2. how_it_works Avatar

      And there’s another traffic light story. This one I read in one of the local newspapers about 15 years ago. It happened in either Warrenton or Culpeper. Don’t recall which and I cannot find the story again. I really wish I could..

      It seems that someone vandalized a traffic light by opening the control cabinet and cutting every wire inside.

      The police chief had a theory as to why:

      “That traffic light didn’t work right. You could sit there for 10 or 15 minutes and it wouldn’t change”.

      Ok, let’s get this straight:

      1)The traffic light doesn’t work right.
      2)Someone in the local government (pretty sure it’s a locally maintained light) is fully aware of it.
      3)Nobody does anything about the problem.
      4)Until someone gets fed up enough to vandalize it.

      This is why people from Northern states make fun of you.

      I personally don’t find it funny, I find it sad and pathetic.

      1. If it was in Warrenton or Culpeper it was not a locally maintained light. VDOT maintains them in both locales.

        1. how_it_works Avatar

          I just checked the Town of Warrenton’s website and their public works page says:

          The Public Works Department provides the following services for the town citizens:
          Street and sidewalk maintenance

          Does VDOT maintain the lights and not the streets there?

        2. how_it_works Avatar

          I remembered that VDOT has a map of traffic signals in Virginia (it’s called the HMMS Traffic Signal Data — google that and it should be the first link)) and it shows no traffic signals in Warrenton.

          It also doesn’t show any in Manassas or Manassas Park, which I know for a fact maintain their own signals. (Herndon and Leesburg maintain their own as well).

          As far as Culpeper, it shows no traffic signals in the town, only outside of it.

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