Nov 25, 2015

List Of Sanctioned Represetatives

     Social Security has recently released a long list of attorneys and claimant representatives who have been barred from practicing before the agency because of misconduct. Note that the list goes back many years. Also note that the list doesn't include the name of Eric Conn.

Nov 24, 2015

First Sign Of Re-Recons

     I heard today of a claimant's request for hearing being diverted to an "informal remand" review, also called re-recon. This is an effort to get strong disability claims approved without the long wait for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. This has been done in the past to help deal with the hearing backlog. 
     I have no idea how many of these will be done or what the criteria will be. I would caution that Social Security's Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) has been doing Senior Attorney reviews, which are somewhat similar to re-recons, in the last few years but they have amounted to almost nothing because so few reviews have been done and because they have been done under such restricted standards that few claims could be approved. The Senior Attorney reviews done in recent years may have been a waste of staff time. We'll have to see if the agency has gotten past its fears of being accused of "paying down the backlog."

ALJ Productivity Has Plummeted

Nov 23, 2015

One Backlog Soars While Other Backlogs Improve -- A Reflection Of Agency Priorities?

     Also, Social Security dramatically improved its telephone service as the hearing backlogs soared.
     The Acting Commissioner can say she's really concerned about the hearing backlog and that the agency is working hard to reduce it but the numbers suggest that it hasn't been a priority.

Nov 22, 2015

Utah Man Tried To Carry Explosive Device Into Social Security Hearing

     A man was arrested in Salt Lake City on Thursday after carrying an explosive device into a federal building. He had come to the building for a Social Security hearing.

Nov 21, 2015

NADE Newsletter

     The National Association of Disability Examiners (NADE), an organization of the personnel who make initial and reconsideration determinations on Social Security disability claims, has issued its Fall 2015 newsletter.

Nov 20, 2015

Replacement Social Security Cards To Be Available Online

     From the Washington Post:
... The Social Security Administration on Thursday announced that Americans who need a replacement [Social Security] card will soon be able to apply for the document online. The process will work for basic card replacements. ...
The program will roll out slowly, first in Wisconsin and Washington state, before spreading to several other states and D.C. ...

Looks Like This Plan Didn't Work

     In an effort to make it more difficult for claimants to object to video hearings, Social Security adopted new rules on June 25, 2014 requiring claimants to object to a video hearing shortly after asking for a hearing, long before they would know whether the agency would actually want to schedule a video hearing for them. The agency expected this would increase video hearings from 28% to 30% of their cases. See the table below from Social Security's Financial Report for 2015 for what actually happened. You may have to click on the table to be able to read it.

Nov 19, 2015

A Message To OIG

     I have asked to receive e-mail notification from Social Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG) when they issue new reports.  In the last couple of weeks I've started receiving this message whenever I try to access one of their reports:
This Connection is Untrusted

You have asked Firefox to connect securely to, but we can't confirm that your connection is secure.

Normally, when you try to connect securely, sites will present trusted identification to prove that you are going to the right place. However, this site's identity can't be verified.
What Should I Do?

If you usually connect to this site without problems, this error could mean that someone is trying to impersonate the site, and you shouldn't continue.

This site uses HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) to specify that Firefox only connect to it securely. As a result, it is not possible to add an exception for this certificate.
     What have you got against Firefox, OIG? Maybe I should ask, what's wrong with your security, OIG? In any case, if OIG wants users of Firefox, which is a lot of people, to access its reports, it's going to have to get its internet act together. Apart from OIG, I don't know that I've ever seen this message, so OIG, you've really gone out of your way to be inaccessible.

More Than 600 Commit Suicide In Britain As Result Of Disability Reviews

     Recipients of social security disability benefits in the United Kingdom are being subjected to "work capability assessments" and many are being cut off benefits. Researchers at the universities of Oxford and Liverpool have done a study showing that there is an increased risk of suicide among those subjected to these "work capacity assessments." There may have been more than 600 extra suicides as a result of the "work capacity assessments" done so far.