I work at the Office of Disability, Adjudication, and Review. We spend a great deal of work, effort, and resources each day processing a claimant’s disability file. However, after a year or two of waiting, many claimants do not show up for their hearing with the judge because we often have outdated addresses. Still, we pay the vocational and medical experts scheduled to testify at the hearing although their testimony was not required. We attempt several times to locate the claimants. We also mail them a letter requesting an explanation as to why they failed to show-up for their hearing knowing there is no chance the letter will reach them. Yet, more often than not, these attempts are futile in locating the claimant. I wonder - why is it that we bear the responsibility for locating these claimants? They should bear some responsibility too. After all, are they not the ones applying for benefits? My proposal is to provide the claimant with a form they must sign at the time they submit their application for disability benefits. The form should state that they understand they must keep the Social Security Administration updated of any changes to their address and failure to do so COULD result in their case been dismissed. The keyword here is COULD, which implies it might happen but does not necessarily mean it will happen. I believe that the worry of possibly losing their benefits will prompt claimants to be more responsible in keeping us informed of any changes to their address. The agency should also implement a policy that minimizes the number of attempts we make to locate a claimant before dismissing their case. The solutions brought forth here will save the government millions and it will provide the opportunity for other claimants to have their cases heard by one of our administrative law judges. It will also help with the backlog we currently have; therefore, minimizing the amount of time a claimant must wait to see a judge.
Idea No. 13061