The USA Today Network recently submitted a request for information regarding how doctors reviewed applicants for disability. The Social Security Administration, which oversees this program, provided the information. The price? $2.3 million. An incredibly hefty sum.
There are several reasons for this high price tag. For one, there is no central database that tracks all of the doctor information, including caseloads and turnaround times. Every state pays and manages their doctors differently, which has led to major discrepancies between states. In fact, this may be leading to some states having much higher denial rates than others.
For instance, in some states, doctors are paid by the case. This means they are rushing through cases to get the biggest payday possible. Experts agree that rushing through cases, sometimes as high as five cases per hour, means that they will not be able to properly assess each situation. Having a high caseload tends to lead to more denials, since doctors are also instructed to protect public funds from inefficiencies and fraud.
Many applications can consists of thousands of pages, which must be properly scrutinized. These pages would include everything related to the case, such as lab results, reports, work history, and doctor’s notes. The doctors hired by Social Security hold a lot of sway over the final decision, so if they are not properly reading the information, then their opinion can be tainted or flat out incorrect. Not only will people be unfairly denied, but if those people appeal, then it will cause even more bureaucratic nightmares and costs.
On top of that, there is the difficulty with getting information, as USA Today Network found. The Social Security Administration claimed that they needed over 72,000 hours to retrieve it, which cost a high amount. This would make getting information for the regular public nearly impossible.