Policy: Entitlements

This blue state has the highest disability claim backlog in the U.S.

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Maryland,Watchdog,Social Security,Entitlements,Kelly Cohen,Accountability,Disparate Impact,Baltimore

The Department of Veterans Affairs is not the only government agency with a backlog of disability claims to process.

The Social Security Administration office that reviews disability claims for central Maryland also has a backlog -- in some cases, of more than a year.

Agency data show people appealing their disability claims at the Baltimore office wait an average of 17 months for a hearing, according to the Baltimore Sun.

That's the third-longest processing delay in the nation -- longer than those of more than 150 other offices, including New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

This Social Security backlog has caused U.S. Rep. C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, a Democrat, to demand a new agency plan to address the delays.

"Some have had to file for bankruptcy, some have lost their homes, some have even died before getting a penny of the benefits they were entitled to," he said.

In a statement, the SSA's spokeswoman said that as a consequence of a tightening budget, the waiting time has increased.

There are currently 11,530 cases pending in the Baltimore office, up 26 percent from two years ago, according to agency data.

Three years ago, Social Security anticipated it would be able to reduce its nationwide backlog to 525,000 by 2014, yet the agency's inspector general reported in April that goal was unrealistic.

The IG estimates the agency may be able to reduce the pending number to slightly more than 668,000, according to the Sun.

"Acting Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin, a former Maryland state official, has received praise for leading the agency through a period of cuts ordered by Congress, but some observers say the agency would be better served by a permanent leader confirmed by the Senate," the Sun reported.

Veterans Affairs has a long-standing history of claims backlogs: The Washington Examiner investigated the agency's backlog in a five-part series called "Making America's Heroes Wait."

Read the full article here.

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Kelly Cohen

Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner