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Project Number: p04-03c

Disability Claims, Review, Hearings and Appeals Procedures: An Analysis of Administrative Best Practices

Principal Investigators: Robert Rich and Thomas Prudhomme

Project Type: Core Research

Project Year: 04

Thematic Category: Disability Determination Process

Project Summary:

The project examines the administrative processes involved in disability determination cases within the Social Security Administration through analysis of the hearings and appeals process. The study tracks this process over time from 1991 to 2002 looking for trends in the number of claims filed, time spent adjudicating those claims, the proportion of claims that advance to each stage of the process, and the amount of money allocated as a result of those claims. Relevant data sets include court transcriptions, SSA policy documents and past studies, SSA administrative data, and other sources. The project will also identify "best practices" from other fields of administrative law and social welfare policy that may be adapted in order to enhance the Social Security disability determination process. "Best practices" are those that reduce error, reduce the amount of time which lapses in adjudication of a claim, reduce fraud and abuse, increase cost effectiveness, and satisfaction of stakeholders involved in the system. The component tasks in the data analysis include: (1) basic descriptive statistical analysis of the trends in number of claims and associated costs, the time required for adjudication, and the success rate of these appeals; (2) document classification by content using automated topic detection to organize the entire information base around the research topics and questions; (3) statistical modeling of relationships among the text contents of documents and other administrative data associated with the documents resulting in quantitative probabilistic models that can be used to test the efficacy of proposed "best practices" based upon past experiences; and (4) detection of anomalous relationships in the entirety of the data and analysis of those anomalies in the context of the proposed best practices.

Project Deliverables: