Monday, October 27, 2008

Nuanced Bureaucracy, Found in Social Security Administration

One of the legacies of the old days of bureaucracy is the binary evaluation: an application or whatever has to be evaluated. So every application goes through the same process, resulting in a yes or no decision. With the advent of software algorithms, it's quite possible for a bureaucracy to become more nuanced, to use different systems for different folks.

As an example, SSA is using a new approach to disability applications: claim you have ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), if the diagnosis is confirmed you get your approval. Claim you have lower back pain, and it takes a good while. Of course, our legislators don't necessarily keep up with advances--there's still a mandatory 5-month waiting period for all claims.

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