Harlan Still & Koch

Exposing the multitude of problems at the SSA

It's no secret that Social Security funding is a problem, and reports have projected that the administration will run out of adequate funds by the year 2034. But, funding is not the only problem facing the administration. There are a myriad of ways in which Social Security is failing to meet the needs of the elderly and disabled populations that it is intended to serve.

A recent article published on PBS News Hour examined various reports, including the watchdog report issued by the SSA Office of the Inspector General, that delve into the Social Security problems that go beyond funding. These reports looked at the most basic issues with Social Security, including not being able to reach a representative by phone, much less a representative who was actually able to help and answer questions.

Perhaps even more troubling is the watchdog report's finding that despite a legal obligation of SSA representatives to explain to people their rights when claiming benefits, these staffers have consistently been providing wrong information to people, particularly with regard to claiming survivor benefits. Of course, the report also noted numerous other areas of concern, including the tremendous backlog of SSD claims, the complexity of SSD applications and the difficulty understanding the rules and requirements. This has also made it very difficult for people to attempt to process their claims through SSA online customer service system. This problem is further compounded by the difficult to use IT system at the SSA.

While these problems are caused in part from the years of underfunding and understaffing of the SSA, there is much more peril facing the Social Security Administration than funding concerns. If you are trying to apply for benefits through the SSA, it is essential to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the process and work through the challenges of the SSA.

Source: PBS News Hour, "Watchdog reports reveal problems at the strained, underfunded Social Security Administration," Philip Moeller, March 14, 2018

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