Overview of the Organization
The proposed organization for the topic of my final paper is the Social Security Administration (SSA). It is an independent agency of the U.S. government that is responsible for administering social security, a social insurance program that consists of benefits such as survivors’, disability, and retirement benefits, which Americans can qualify for through the payment of Social Security taxes.
In particular, I work for the agency’s Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) where, as a Senior Case Technician, I am responsible for providing technical and legal support to the Administrative Law-Judges and other professional and technical positions that are responsible for processing and making decisions on cases with regards to claimants’ entitlement of benefits. I am responsible for developing and processing hearing cases from when they’re filed in the office until they are completed. In addition, I am responsible for independently conducting various types of case development actions. My responsibilities also include the processing of complex cases where I analyze and interpret the issues with regards to the guidelines, procedures, policies, precedents, rulings, regulations, and the provisions of the law. These are performed with the goal of examining medical and legal documentary evidence and other supporting documents for the determination of how a case is to proceed. The results of the work I do is determinant of whether Social Security claimants will receive the benefits they’re entitled to under the Social Security.
A growing problem within the agency concerns the employees’ job performance and productivity levels, which, I believe, negatively affect not only the agency and the employees, but the claimants as well. In my opinion, about 60% of the employees are doing only the minimum or even less than the minimum amount of work required. Employees often spend too much time on chit chat and also take longer than the 1-hour break allotted. In addition, they spend too much time surfing the Internet.
Claimants are the ones who suffer the most from this poor performance. Since our office is responsible for reviewing the cases of claimants who have been denied their claims and thus, have decided to appeal, it is the job of the SSA employees to prepare these claimants’ cases so that the judge can make a decision and so that lawyers can review the claimant’s case online.
The SSA employees are required to complete the preparation of at least 30 cases per month. Unfortunately, many of the cases are incorrectly prepared, which causes a problem for the Senior Case Technician as he or she will be responsible for correcting the case information and for obtaining the missing information or queries.
The employees who are responsible for preparing the cases do not review their work as they’re often busy with chit chat. They also often neglect to review and exhibit additional documents with regards to a case, which prevents lawyers from accessing the said documents online.
Because of the employees’ inefficient use of their time and their lack of diligence with the work, the requirements are often not properly completed, which causes claimants to wait longer for the judge’s final decision. Missing information and evidence for the case will need to be obtained by the Senior Case Technician and such delay can last for several months.
The same problem occurs with the lawyers. If a lawyer is unaware of the fact that a case is ready for review, he or she will usually not request for evidence until he or she receives notice of the hearing, which is about 20 days prior to the hearing. However, by this time, most lawyers would already be unable to submit all of the necessary evidence as it usually takes 30 to 60 days for the Facilities department to provide the requested evidence. Some lawyers just supply the evidence themselves but others are just as irresponsible as some of the SSA employees. In addition, a lawyer’s compensation is paid upon a favorable decision. As such, some lawyers refuse to pay for records where their services are not guaranteed. In these cases, some lawyers claim to not be receiving the evidence they request from the SSA and as such, they require the SSA to obtain and pay for the said records; otherwise, they are paid for by the claimant. Despite management asking the SSA employees to keep track of such instances in order to enable an investigation of the said anomalies, the SSA employees fail to do so as they often slack around.
Similarly, some employees are allowed to slack around because of their connections. It’s also because of connections that some employees get promoted even when they perform poorly. Because of this, employee morale decreases, which also leads to a decrease in productivity.
Preliminary Problem Statement
Although the agency has a collaborative and friendly culture where employees can easily approach their managers and leaders and although the SSA provides its employees with great benefits, flexible time, and job security, these do not seem to have any effect on the level and quality of the employees’ performance nor do they motivate the employees to perform well. Rather, these benefits and privileges are being abused. However, management doesn’t seem to be doing anything to correct such behaviors and to implement some form of control to make sure that everybody is performing their tasks as expected.
Not only is this leading to delays in the processing of claimants’ benefits, but this also leads to financial losses on the part of the SSA, which in turn are essentially the tax payer’s money. In addition, the unfair treatment of employees, along with the unjustified promotions, lead to a decrease in employee morale as well as to a decrease in productivity.
Through the recommendations made in this paper, it is hoped that employee performance at the SSA will be improved through the proper implementation of a rewards system, which in turn will lead to better services provided to claimants, cost savings for the SSA, and increased employee morale.