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The Daily Record of Rochester
August 24, 2011

Disability case backlog not improving
By Todd Etshman

According to a report released by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) research center at Syracuse University, pending social security cases awaiting a hearing and resolution continued to climb in the second quarter of 2011. TRAC said that although some progress has been made in the Social Security Administration's goal of reducing the backlog, pending cases were up 7.5 percent from a year ago, and now total over 746,000 open cases nationwide through June. TRAC's studies on the case backlog have drawn the ire of the SSA Director Michael Astrue, who has directly criticized the group's research findings. Astrue released a press release last month after TRAC issued a report on the backlog in June, indicating that administrative law judges have substantial independence in making their decisions, and variations between judges and courts across the country is a predictable consequence of Congressional decisions. "There has been little improvement in the widely differing times which claimants experience depending upon their location," said Dr. Susan Long, Syracuse University associate professor of managerial statistics who co-authored the report with TRAC Co-director David Burnham in Washington, D.C. "In fact, variability increased slightly and the longest average wait in June was nine days longer than in March. These disturbing trends regarding SSA's faltering efforts noted by TRAC in its previous report, using data through March of this year thus appear to be continuing unabated. "

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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