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COVID-19 Impact on Initial Level of SSDI

The Office of the Inspector General recently released a report regarding the effects of COVID-19 on the processing of Disability Claims at the Initial DDS level. The most important notes include:

· Despite receiving fewer initial claims during the pandemic, DDS average processing time for an initial claim rose from 95.5 days to over 135 days.

· Roughly 4,000 DDS employees resigned or retired during the pandemic and roughly 4,300 employees were hired in the same period. The SSA indicates it takes an examiner an average of 2 years to become proficient in their position.

· Basic cellular telephones provided to DDS employees teleworking caused confusion with claimants due to caller-id issues.

· Consultative Examinations (CEs) were a pain point for DDS offices due to providers suspending CEs, claimants not feeling comfortable attending a CE, local restrictions, or other various reasons.

· The SSA requested $15.5 billion for its FY2024 budget which is an increase of $1.4 billion in FY2023. $2.9 billion would be specifically for payroll, hiring, workload processing costs, and other expenses for DDSs.

While this report is not a surprise, it is a positive sign that the SSA recognizes its weaknesses at this time. IBI will continue to monitor developments at the SSA as always.

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