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President Scales outlines issues and thanks Acting Commissioner Kijakazi

Kilolo Kijakazi

Acting Commissioner of Social Security

Social Security Administration

900 Altmeyer Building

6401 Security Blvd.

Baltimore, MD 21235

Dear Acting Commissioner Kijakazi,

On behalf of the National Council of Disability Determination Directors (NCDDD), I want to thank you for meeting with our leadership in August and for entertaining future meeting opportunities. We truly value the opportunity to share and collaborate with you, and members of your leadership team. Not only are we provided a forum to share our challenges, we value the opportunity to express DDS appreciation for your support over the last two years, maximizing DDS hiring, overtime funding, making telework available, deploying laptops to the DDSs on short notice, and building in a variety of contingencies in support of our employees and customers during one of the most challenging periods in our nation’s history. Your willingness to listen and have these conversations is critical to strengthening our state/federal partnership.

We focused our prior conversation heavily on the NCDDD Administrators Survey. We believe we have outlined the major issues, concerns, and obstacles to our continued success, and have offered significant suggestions and solutions, highlights as follows:

  • In a majority of states, adjudicators’ pending caseloads are the highest we have ever seen and are untenable.

  • The job of the disability examiner has become far too complex and difficult, morale is down and employees are leaving in record numbers.

  • There are currently somewhere between 400,000 and a half million unassigned cases awaiting adjudicator assignment and in staged or backlog queues in DDSs across the country.

  • There are approximately 120,000 cases in doctor’s queues awaiting medical reviews across the country.

  • The oversight of OQR needs to be evaluated to ensure that we are all working towards the same goal – the right decision to the claimant in a timely manner. The current scrutiny is unnecessary and needs to be modified.

  • HSPD-12 has become an impediment to hiring; exclusion of DDSs from the process or major changes to the current process are urgently needed.

  • DCPS, at least for the foreseeable future, is significantly slower in most states and workloads are still far too abundant; funding aggressive DCPS development is critical.

  • Processing times are up across the nation, at historical highs.

  • Vocational Modernization is happening far to slow; outdated program requirements are unrealistic and in need of major change.

  • SSA support for modernized communication (email and text) is past due.

  • SSA must afford DDSs the same access to modern equipment and technology (i.e Voice Over Internet Protocol Telecommunications or similar solution) that it provides SSA employees.

Not only do we illustrate challenges, but we want to offer meaningful suggestions and solutions as well. The DDSs want to be a part of the solution to evolving issues, before we are mutually (SSA and DDS) faced with catastrophic results. There is very little ‘low hanging fruit’ on the DDS side, we need immediate, meaningful, and bold change that only SSA can deliver. Working together, we know we can make meaningful change, but it must be responsive to the challenges and in some cases, drastic.

Respectfully submitted,

Leon Scales

Leon Scales

NCDDD President


Andrea Moore, Executive Assistant, Office of the Commissioner

Grace Kim, Deputy Commissioner for Operations

Nancy Berryhill, Senior Advisor, Office of the Commissioner

John Owen, Associate Commissioner, Office of Disability Determinations

Lucinda Davis, Deputy Associate Commissioner, Office of Disability Determinations

Jacqueline Russell, President-Elect, National Council of Disability Determination Directors

Liz McLaren, Past President, National Council of Disability Determination Directors

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