Aug 29, 2015

High Stakes In Disability Determination

     People drawing the British equivalent of Social Security disability benefits are being subjected to new examinations to determine whether they're really disabled. Many are being cut off benefits. It turns out that more than 80 a month of those cut off are dying shortly after being found not disabled.

Aug 28, 2015

The Hunt For Social Security Disability Villains

     From a report by Social Security's Office of Inspector General:
On December 12, 2014, we received a request from the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Social Security, Committee on Ways and Means, to provide information on how SSA ensures beneficiaries follow prescribed treatment. ...
We identified 15 instances where SSA [Social Security Administration] denied benefits — or removed a beneficiary from the disability rolls based on a CDR [Continuing Disability Reviews]— for failing to follow prescribed treatment. Of the more than 2 million disability denials in 2012, only 5 were denied because the individuals failed to follow prescribed treatment. Of the 122,000 initial CDR cessations in 2012, the Agency ceased 10 because the individuals failed to follow prescribed treatment. ...
Additionally, w e reviewed a sample of 200 initial claims allowed in 2012 and found 23 had a possible failure to follow prescribed treatment issue. In 22 of these 23 claims, the adjudicator processed the claim in accordance with SSA policy. However, in one claim, the adjudicator did not follow Agency policy since he/she did not develop a potential failure to follow prescribed treatment issue. 
We also reviewed a sample of 200 CDRs continued in 2012 and found 11 had a possible failure to follow prescribed treatment issue. In all 11 claims, SSA handled the issue in accordance with policy. ...
     Perhaps the interesting thing here is the request from the Chairman of the House Social Security Subcommittee. It seems to be part of a Republican search for Social Security disability villains. It is similar to the recent suggestion by one Republican officeholder that mothers were intentionally poisoning their children with lead in order to get free housing. Sorry, guys but you're not going to find claimants refusing medical treatment so they can be found disabled or remain disabled. That's virtually nonexistent. And, no, Social Security's failure to find instances of this happening doesn't mean that Social Security hasn't been looking for it. It's because it just about never happens.

Aug 27, 2015

Maine Congressional Delegation Reacts To The Hearing Backlog

     Maine's Congressional delegation is reacting to Social Security's vast and growing hearing backlog.

GOP Wanted FOIA Investigation

     Congressional Republicans asked Social Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG) to see whether political appointees at Social Security were manipulating the agency's responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. OIG found no evidence of this.
     I have no idea why the GOP would think there was a problem with political interference with FOIA requests at Social Security. However, there is a big FOIA problem at Social Security. FOIA requests at Social Security take forever! Months and even years can pass without a response. This isn't because of political interference. It's because of lack of resources. It's the same at other government agencies. FOIA is a mess but the problem isn't political.

Aug 26, 2015

NO COLA This Year?

     The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College says there probably won't be a Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) this year. If so, it would be only the third time this has happened in 40 years.

Aug 25, 2015

What's A Signature?

     With Adobe Acrobat it is possible to send Social Security forms to claimants via e-mail and for those claimants to sign the forms with their mouse if they're using a desktop or using their finger if they're using a smartphone or tablet. Is that sort of signature acceptable to Social Security? Is there a policy on this? If there isn't a policy, shouldn't there be? Doesn't 15 U.S.C. §7001 require Social Security to accept this form of signature?
     I'm not asking these questions because I'd like for the Social Security Administration to use this method of collecting signatures. It's fine with me if they do but that's not my point in asking. I'm asking because I'd like to use this method so that my clients can quickly sign the necessary paperwork so I can represent them.

Aug 24, 2015

Anyone Still Wanting To Invest The Trust Funds In The Stock Market?

     Is there anyone out there who still wants to invest the Social Security trust funds in the stock market? Anyone? 'Fess up, right wing trolls. That was a terrible idea.