October 21,2005

Grassley on Social Security Disability Electronic Claims Processing


To: Reporters and Editors
Re: GAO report on SSA Electronic Disability Claims Processing
Da: Friday, Oct. 21, 2005

A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on the implementation of an electronic disability claims processing system by the Social Security Administration (SSA) concludes SSA has made progress in implementing the system but has encountered operational, productivity, and continuity problems that must be resolved.

The SSA plans to implement a nationwide system that will allow disability claims to beprocessed electronically, thereby eliminating the need for paper documents. This change is expectedto improve the administration of the disability program. The SSA has already begun to certifyindividual states under the new system and expects to complete its nationwide rollout by January2007.

Previous work by the GAO recommended end-to-end testing prior to implementation.Today’s report suggests such testing could have mitigated the operational problems that have beenencountered to date and avoided still others.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, requested the study andprovided the following comment on it.

“The decision to fully implement the new system without end-to-end testing was a bold stepthat may ultimately prove successful. But unless SSA remains diligent, it runs the risk of a costly andtime-consuming process of fixing problems that could have been avoided in the first place had itconducted end-to-end testing.”