The long backlog Social Security Disability Insurance applicants face for benefit decisions is hurting them and the taxpayers, Senate Joint Economic Committee Chairman Dan Coats (R-Ind.) said Wednesday.

The average wait of 114 days for an initial decision and 480 days for an appeal increases risk of fraud and slows awards of benefits to individuals who need them,” said the Senator.

He noted the General Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, has found $11 billion in overpayments during the last 10 years while the Social Security Administration estimates 44.5 percent of participants have received more money than they are entitled to.

About 5 percent of all working age Americans collect SSDI, accounting for 15 percent of Social Security Administration payments.

At a committee hearing on SSDI, SSA Inspector General Patrick O’Carroll said acting agency head Carolyn Colvin is doing a good job.

“It is hard to be an Acting because anything you do right is considered OK and anything you do wrong is magnified,” said the agency’s top internal cop.

He gave her high marks for monitoring development of the agency’s workforce.

O’Carroll said one thing the agency can probably do to lower the backlog is to bring in best practices from regional offices that have short waits to local centers that have long ones.

Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton said SSA’s record of returning less than one-half of one percent of SSDI recipients to work needs to be and can be improved.