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Putting it bluntly

Bureaucracies rarely like to state things in a forthright manner. Bureaucrats recognize they are embedded within an organization, and their progression "up the ladder" depends on their pleasing their bosses. This means issues are often obscured or numbers are manipulated to make situations look better than they are in reality. The Social Security Administration is one of the largest government bureaucracies, and its "bosses" are the members of Congress.

Testimony by representatives of SSA to Congress is often a combination of jargon and happy generalities, suggesting how the latest program will allow the backlog issues that have plagued the agency to be resolved. But not always. Recently, the Deputy Commissioner for Systems and Chief Information Officer testified to a House Committee on "Government Reform." For Congress, the word "reform" is code for "cutting spending." For those applying for Social Security Disability, this type of reform is disastrous.

The Deputy Commissioner was speaking on issues of IT infrastructure and cybersecurity. This is important for everyone who may receive any form of SSA benefit, as computers control virtually every aspect of the SSD benefit process.

He bluntly told the members of Congress that their assumption that the problems at the agency are due to "bad management" is not likely to be accurate. He pointed out the difficulty of protecting 30-year-old computer systems from modern threats and that Congresses' "wishing" for solutions will not fix these issues. He said, "Wishing for better IT from cost cutting will not help. Wishing for cost-cuts with no investment will not help."

He also reminded Congress that it cut $350 million from the agency's last budget request. Given the large number of individuals who will be needing SSA services in the coming years from both the disability and retirement programs would suggest the agency will require greatly increased budgets in the future.

For those applying for SSD benefits, the prospect of more significant backlogs is troubling and is an additional reason why individuals should seek assistance prior to filing to ensure their applications are as complete and accurate as possible.

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