This is Part 2 of the series Examining the Reconsideration Level. Read Part 1: Trust at the Reconsideration Level—Challenges and Solutions and Part 3: Quantity at the Reconsideration Level—Temporary hiring Based on Production Needs.
Balancing quality and quantity in a production-paced work environment is a challenge. As a Social Security Disability adjudicator, this is a lot of pressure—I know this from personal experience. There is only a short amount of time to decide whether the disability claimant is disabled or not—meaning there is a lot at stake for the claimant. Handling the pressure while providing a quality product at a reasonable pace is no easy feat. Fortunately, it is possible! A quality product can be produced in a reasonable amount of time by providing SSD adjudicators a developed record, giving Social Security Disability representatives access to the file at the initial and reconsideration levels, and rewarding quality work.
Provide Social Security Administration Employees with a Developed Record
Give Social Security Administration (SSA) employees focused time and effort in developing the record at the initial and reconsiderations levels—not in the spare time they have between other responsibilities. Make this a priority! A fully developed record completed earlier on in the process allows for better decision-making and improves reliability and trust in the process.
Give Disability Claimant and/or SSD Representative Access to the Electronic File at the Initial and Reconsideration Levels
When the disability claimant and Social Security Disability representative can see what is in the file, they can order only the necessary evidence instead of everything. Nobody likes duplicated or unnecessary evidence. Currently, electronic access is limited until after the reconsideration determination has been made based on an underdeveloped record. This reduces trust in the process and leads to an increase in appeals.
Reward Quality Work
Quality work is an evaluation of all allegations based on a minimum of twelve (12) months of relevant evidence. This includes a thorough and legally defensible determination based on the developed record. When a disability claimant sees a decision has been made on a developed record that addresses every allegation and is supported by the rules, regulations, and law, reliability and trust in the process improve while appeals are reduced. It is vital to reward Social Security Disability adjudicators for providing a quality product.
Quality determinations at the reconsideration level are possible when SSD adjudicators receive a fully developed record and SSA employees are given time to develop the record. Combine this with allowing disability claimants and Social Security Disability representatives access to the electronic file at the initial and reconsideration levels, as well as rewarding quality work, and you’ll find success!