An unexpected surge in Social Security disability applications has caught the SSA off-guard and unprepared for the massive increase. The current backlog of 780,000 claims may top 1 million by the end of fiscal year 2010, leaving many disabled and chronically ill Americans waiting in limbo for much needed help.
To handle the surge in claims, Commissioner Michael Astrue is pushing forward with new technology that will help process claims faster. To handle an increase in online capacity, SSA is bringing a new backup data center online in Durham North Carolina.
The new data center is critically important for the SSA, because the current aging system at the National Computing Center in Baltimore, Maryland is projected to run out of capacity by 2012. The backup system will be hobbled together with the current system to provide computing power until the new system is fully up and running, which is expected to happen by 2015.
The new computer system is critically important to the SSA as more and more people file claims online. It did not take long, according to Commissioner Astrue, for online applications to jump from 10 percent to 36 percent of all applications for benefits.
In addition, Astrue expects that SSA will be the first agency in the federal government to make their online services available in Spanish.