I have run through every excuse I can trying to explain the inexcusable delays for people waiting to get their Social Security disability approved. For years, I assured people that Social Security was going to make improvements that would allow for faster processing of claims. I explained it was due to budget cuts or staff shortages or even just demographics. But, I give up. The waiting time at the Tucson hearing office has gone past 18 months. It was not that long ago that Social Security had that down to as little as 5 months. I fear that the wait times are going to get worse. At a hearing yesterday, I spoke to one of our judges about the delays. He told me something extraordinary: Social Security is putting pressure on their judges to produce fewer decisions. At a time when the delays are already unconscionable, Social Security wants its judges to slow down. The supposed reason for putting on the brakes is so the judges can produce more high quality opinions.
What does that mean? At the same time, the Appeals Council is sending more decisions back to judges for additional hearings. These remands are based on ever-more flimsy reasons, such as minor technical problems that do not even reach the merits of the case. News like this really makes me wonder. Why is
Social Security slowing down the hearing process when they are already hopelessly behind? I know this sounds paranoid, but is Social Security trying to make the process so unworkable that people simply give up? Are they trying to force lawyers out of the business by making it too hard to earn a living? Most likely, Social Security is simply bumbling along in the dark, making matters worse with every move they make. I don't think anyone there has the brains nor the ambition required to mount a conspiracy. In the meantime, people are losing their houses or even dying while they wait.