Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) June 22, 2021 - The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on everyone's life in many ways. Some people are without work, others cannot see their loved ones, and many are struggling to meet the financial demands of everyday life. However, the ill effects of the pandemic are not limited to individuals. In a recent letter to Congress, Andrew Saul, the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), explained the "negative impact" that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on the Administration. These impacts are affecting not only the Administration but also individuals who are seeking Social Security benefits. In response, the Commissioner is asking Congress to consider providing additional funding to the SSA.
According to Commissioner Saul's letter, the SSA, like many organizations, had to shift away from in-person services in the early part of last year. This unanticipated change required SSA employees to conduct as much business as possible over the phone and online. However, not all SSA business lends itself to remote consultations. As a result, the average wait time for applicants to hear back on whether their claim is approved increased by about 20 percent.
The Commissioner's letter also explains that the SSA deferred continuing disability reviews (CDRs) and Supplemental Security Income redeterminations during the early part of the pandemic to preserve recipients' income. While this may have been welcome news for those whose benefits were up for review, it also means that the SSA could not benefit from the usual cost-savings these reviews generate.
Toward the end of 2020, the SSA resumed CDRs and Supplemental Security Income redeterminations; however, they are now exclusively conducted through the mail and over the phone. Because the review process requires a back-and-forth between the SSA and the benefit recipient, the process is dragging on longer than usual and frequently runs into other roadblocks. For example, the Commissioner notes that about 30 percent of all initial Social Security and continuing review claims require a consultative exam, which must be performed in person. However, only 70 percent of providers are currently performing CE exams, further limiting any progress. The result is that the review time for an initial determination increased 45 days, which is estimated to increase the SSA pending caseload by nearly 500,000 by the end of the current year.
Attorney David W. Magann, Florida disability attorney, notes that "The continued viability of Social Security benefits has long been in question, and the COVID-19 pandemic is certainly making the question even more relevant. We should all expect the Social Security Administration to look for any cost-saving measures soon. For those who were up for a CDR in the past year and had their review deferred, the review process will likely resume. In the meantime, those applying for benefits for the first time are seeing extremely long wait times that keep them in a state of limbo. This adds to the importance of ensuring that an initial application is filled out correctly."
Attorney David Magann is a Florida, social security disability attorney with years of hands-on experience helping individuals and families navigate the Social Security benefits process. Attorney Magann is a compassionate advocate who diligently advances his clients' interests at every opportunity, providing practical advice on various related legal issues, including estate planning and Veterans' benefits. Attorney Magann has offices conveniently located in Brandon and Tampa and can be reached at http://www.floridasocialsecurity.com/
David W. Magann, P.A.
156 W. Robertson St.
Brandon, FL 33511
Call: (813) 657-9175
4012 Gunn Highway #165
Tampa, Florida 33618