Social Security Disability Programs:

Survey of Disability Determination Services Directors, an E-supplement to GAO-07-8

GAO-07-4SP: Published: Oct 3, 2006. Publicly Released: Oct 3, 2006.

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This document presents selected results of GAO's web-based survey of directors of state agencies responsible for determining whether Social Security disability beneficiaries remain eligible for benefits, given their current medical condition. These agencies, called Disability Determination Services, conduct periodic continuing disability reviews to determine whether beneficiaries' medical conditions have improved and whether they are able to work. The purpose of this survey was to gather information from the directors on whether the medical improvement standard--the standard used to conduct these reviews--poses any special challenges for the Social Security Administration when determining whether beneficiaries continue to be eligible for benefits. We asked the directors about particular elements of the standard and how these elements, alone or in combination with other factors, may impact continuing disability review outcomes (whether or not a beneficiary continues to receive benefits). We sent this survey to the 55 Disability Determination Services directors in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Western Pacific Islands and the federal Disability Determination Service. We received 54 completed surveys for a response rate of 98 percent. A more detailed discussion of our scope and methodology is contained in our report Social Security Disability Programs: Clearer Guidance Could Help SSA Apply the Medical Improvement Standard More Consistently GAO-07-8 (Washington, D.C.: October 3, 2006).

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