As I have said about another recent situation involving ALJs, this is painful to watch. Instant karma?
Read the newsletter while you can. I doubt that it will stay up long.
WASHINGTON — Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, R-Clarence, is criticizing the Social Security Administration for proposing a pilot project that, beginning in March, would close the agency’s Buffalo area offices to the public three hours early every Wednesday afternoon.
The agency says the program is under consideration as a possible way for office workers to catch up on the mounting backlog of work — growing larger with baby boomers beginning to sign up for retirement benefits and call volume threatening to surpass staffing limitations.
“I understand concerns about having insufficient staff to adequately handle the agency’s current workload, but I assure you that limiting access to the public will not solve that problem and will only create further backlogs, confusion and dissatisfaction among the members of the public whom your agency serves,” Reynolds said in a letter to Michael J. Astrue, Social Security commissioner.
Reynolds said the plan could backfire and adversely affect senior citizens and disabled people.
The Empire State News reports that Social Security will not go ahead with the reduction in offce hours -- until March.
... this provision would treat most military compensation as wages for SSI, and codify SSA's policy of treating certain housing allowances as “in-kind” income. We believe this legislation is very important. ...
Under current SSI law, generally only basic pay is counted as earned income. All other allowances – housing, uniform, special duty pay, and so on – are counted as unearned income. Because of SSI's provisions supporting beneficiary efforts to work, earned income is treated differently than unearned income in determining benefit eligibility and payment level. ...
This distinction between consideration of military basic pay and other pay types has had the effect of disadvantaging military personnel compared to civilians in similar situations....
The proposal contained in the HEART bill would result in treating most cash military compensation and civilian wages alike (for SSI purposes), thus eliminating this present unfair treatment of military compensation other than basic pay. ...
Turning to the second proposal, we also support legislation that would exclude the AmeriCorps State and National and AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps program payments for purposes of determining SSI eligibility and benefit amounts. ...
... the third proposal to exclude State annuity payments to blind veterans from income consideration for SSI benefits, could serve as a means to recognize that sacrifice. An exclusion of State annuity payments for veterans who, by definition, are blind and also of limited means, may be reasonable and appropriate.
The appropriations bill covering the Social Security Administration is coming up for action on the Senate floor today. From Congressional Quarterly(registration required):
AARP, the biggest U.S. lobbying group for people 50 and older, complained about how little the Labor-HHS bill would provide for Social Security’s administrative expenses. The Senate bill would allocate $9.7 billion, $125 million more than Bush requested. AARP said it was “grateful” for the additional funding, but “the agency needs more funding to avoid additional office closings and an increased disability backlog,” according to AARP official David P. Sloane in an Oct. 16 letter to Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus. AARP has 38 million members, or about 12 percent of the U.S. population. Separately, Harkin yesterday criticized Bush for submitting a budget request for Social Security that “would add almost 100,000 disability claims to the backlog.” “We put in $426 million to reduce that backlog,” Harkin said. Social Security last week said it planned to hire about 150 judges and office staff for hearings on disability claims in the spring 2008. Social Security had a backlog of almost 747,000 cases at hearing level as of the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
We have to admit to being more than just a little confused when we read press coverage of yesterday’s baby boomer event at the National Press Club. Just in case you missed it, the nation’s first baby boomer, Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, filed online for Social Security benefits yesterday to much hoopla.
But what was truly unexpected about this event was the lack of the administration’s usual gloom and doom propaganda. In fact, Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue was incredibly reasonable and definitely not singing from the same “sky-is-falling-the-baby-boomers-will-suck-us-dry” hymnal preferred by the Bush administration.
Here is what Commission Astrue said about Social Security’s financial outlook:“There’s no reason for any immediate panic”
“It’s not catastrophic”
“There’s no factual basis for these ‘nuclear winter’ scenarios
many have described”
Wow. You have to wonder if the White House knows he’s sticking so closely to the facts.
But here’s where we find ourselves down the rabbit hole. While the Bush administration’s Social Security head is telling the straight story on the program’s long-term fiscal picture (unlike what we generally hear elsewhere from this administration), multiple news organizations virtually ignored it in favor of the White House’s crisis propaganda. Almost all of the coverage today parrots the administration’s “we can’t afford the Baby Boomers ” line even though that is not what the SSA Commissioner actually said at this event.
The Washington Post even went so far as to belittle the Commissioner and Casey-Kirschling for having the nerve to express their confidence in Social Security’s future. The media loves a crisis...this isn’t new. However, Social Security is too important to millions of American seniors and their families to play so fast and loose with the facts in the name of headlines.
We plan to include many of the hearing level procedures implemented under DSI and now in place for disability cases in the Boston Region into parts 404 and 416 of our rules to reduce the hearing backlog, including time frames for submitting evidence to the ALJ and closing the evidentiary record at the time of the ALJ decision. These changes will expand those rules nation-wide and apply them to hearings on both disability and non-disability matters.I have seen no evidence that these rule changes will reduce hearing backlogs.
Nonattorney representatives who have met the eligibility requirements for fee withholding under the demonstration project have more experience representing disability claimants and are more likely to specialize in disability representation than attorneys or ineligible nonattorneys. According to our surveys, we estimate that nonattorneys eligible for fee withholding have represented on average over 240 disability claimants in a 2-year period, whereas other representatives have represented on average fewer than 90. Nearly all eligible nonattorneys specialize in disability representation, a fact that may explain why they have substantially more experience representing disability claimants. Although both eligible and ineligible nonattorneys lack advanced legal training, many had relevant work experience before becoming disability representatives, such as having worked at SSA. In terms of current employment, attorneys and eligible nonattorneys predominantly work in the private sector, but many ineligible nonattorneys work at nonprofit organizations and government agencies, which may not charge claimants fees. Results in Brief Judges rated attorneys and eligible nonattorneys about equally well overall, and more highly than ineligible nonattorneys, while claimants did not distinguish substantially among the three groups. In overall performance, judges at the 10 sites we surveyed during January and February 2007 viewed attorneys and eligible nonattorneys as comparable, although they rated attorneys more highly in a few specific areas of disability representation. Judges rated about 55 percent of overall performances by both attorneys and eligible nonattorneys as above average or among the best, and only about 6 percent as below average or poor. Many judges also told us they believe that experience in the field rather than legal training is the key to effective representation of disability claimants. However, judges did rate attorneys somewhat more highly than the eligible nonattorneys in certain facets of disability representation, such as in questioning of vocational and medical experts. By contrast, judges viewed nonattorneys who are ineligible for fee withholding as less capable than both attorneys and eligible nonattorneys, both in overall performance and in every facet of disability representation. Ratings by the limited number of claimants we interviewed, on the other hand, did not distinguish substantially among the various representatives in their overall performance. Judges and eligible nonattorneys were generally satisfied with the overall implementation of fee withholding for nonattorneys, but they expressed some concern about the experience standard for nonattorney eligibility. Almost all eligible nonattorney representatives were satisfied with SSA’s overall management of the program. Eligible nonattorneys also report that eligibility for fee withholding has benefited them by, for example, allowing them to take on more cases because they spend less time trying to collect fees from claimants. We found that judges and eligible nonattorneys considered most of the eligibility requirements for participation in the demonstration project to be reasonable. However, both groups, in addition to advocacy groups we spoke with, questioned the adequacy of the experience standard, which calls for nonattorneys to have represented at least five claimants before SSA over a 2-year period. Most of the judges we interviewed and more than half of the eligible nonattorneys considered this to be insufficient experience. Judges, and also advocacy groups we spoke with, said that the standard would not ensure that eligible nonattorneys are well qualified in disability representation. Fee withholding has succeeded in encouraging some attorneys to represent more SSI claimants, but it has also complicated payments to representatives and claimants in certain SSI cases. Attorneys reported that before fee withholding was extended to SSI, the possibility of not collecting their fees affected their decision to represent SSI claimants. Because of the availability of fee withholding, approximately one-third of attorneys with disability practices report that they are now representing more SSI claimants than in the past. Fee withholding, however, has also complicated payments to attorney and nonattorney representatives, as well as to claimants. In some cases, representatives may inappropriately receive both SSA and state payments that may total more than the SSA-authorized fee. Most states provide cash assistance to SSI claimants during the application process. At least 10 of these states pay fees to representatives of successful SSI claimants to encourage representatives to take SSI cases, and therefore increase the number of state residents receiving federal rather than state assistance benefits. Because SSA does not coordinate with these states to prevent overpayments, representatives can collect more than the authorized fee through payments from both SSA and the state—something that under the Social Security Act, representatives are not allowed to do. In addition, fee withholding in the SSI program has delayed benefit payments to claimants. In cases where claimants receive benefits from both the SSI and DI programs at the same time, SSA performs a calculation to determine the total benefits and the amount of the representative’s fee. With the extension of fee withholding to the SSI program, SSA cannot pay benefits until after it has performed this calculation. According to SSA and two disability representative associations, this change has led to delays in claimants receiving their payments, although SSA has not determined the extent of these delays. SSA is tentatively planning to make changes that would address this issue. We are recommending that the Commissioner of SSA monitor the nonattorney eligibility criteria to help ensure that only well-qualified representatives receive access to fee withholding, and if necessary adjust these criteria; assess the extent of overpayments to representatives in cases involving state fees, and if necessary take steps to prevent these overpayments; and continue to explore options to address benefit payment delays for recipients receiving both SSI and DI benefits. In its comments on a draft of this report, SSA agreed with our findings and recommendations, and noted actions it plans to take to address our recommendations.
Social Security Administration Commissioner Michael Astrue said it is ``highly likely'' that policymakers will amend Social Security sometime between 2009 and 2011, when the next president has a "mandate'' to pursue far-reaching policy changes.
"It's just a question of timing,'' Astrue said. ...
There is more agreement among Democrats and Republicans on how to solve the issue than may be apparent from their public statements, he said.
"When you're behind closed doors, and you're not posturing for the public or for the media,'' Astrue said, "they say almost word for word the same thing.'' ...
"Nobody likes any of the options,'' he said. "Nobody wants to pay higher taxes. Nobody wants to cut benefits. So there's no easy answer one way or another, and so you can't expect anyone to say, `Oh yeah, that's terrific idea.' There is no terrific idea. The question ultimately will be: `What's the least painful idea?''
Behind closed doors Republicans were really saying they supported removing the earnings cap from FICA? Democrats were really saying they support benefit cuts?
A Maryland woman Monday becomes the first baby boomer of 80 million baby boomers who will file for Social Security benefits over the next 22 years.
Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, a retired teacher from Cecil County, Md., was born in Philadelphia at one second past midnight on Jan. 1, 1946.
The federal government considers her the nation's first baby boomer.
She'll file her application online during a ceremony with Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue.
Tons of people seem puzzled as to why I would need a physical Social Security card. The answer is that I need it as proof of Social Security Number in order to (belatedly) convert my New York driver's license into a DC one.
Incidentally, service at the Social Security Administration office at 2100 M Street was very prompt. I'd sort of been expecting an interminable wait during which I could make a serious dent in The Conscience of a Liberal but my number got called almost as soon as I was finished filling out the brief form. The employees working at the office were polite and helpful. Bureaucracy works!
To assess the indicator's progress in meeting this objective and goal, SSA’s Office of Quality Performance (OQP) annually conducts a series of tracking surveys to measure a customer’s satisfaction with his or her last contact with SSA. SSA conducts three surveys: the 800-Number Caller Survey, the FO Caller Survey, and the Office Visitor (OV) Survey. OQP uses a 6-point rating scale ranging from “excellent” to “very poor.” To report the final overall service satisfaction, OQP combines the three customer satisfaction surveys, weighting each survey by the customer universe it represents.
A small band of pro-immigrant groups rallied outside the Social Security Administration's Dallas office Friday and called on the agency to keep its data out of immigration enforcement efforts.
About half a dozen demonstrators, including state Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas, delivered letters asking the administration not to allow its "no match" letters to become part of immigration enforcement.
Goodwill Industries International is calling on the U.S. House of Representatives to pass H.R. 3696, which would modify the nation's disability policies to exclude 401(k) and IRA retirement accounts from federally funded means-tested benefits, so that all Americans can pursue a path to self-sufficiency and financial independence. ...
When people with disabilities are placed into a full-time position for the first time, they can do things that many people take for granted, such as opening a checking account and even making small contributions to their employer's 401(k) plan. But existing disability policy creates a disincentive to work and is feeding fears that if people do work and save for retirement they will lose their eligibility for income support and Medicaid.
A day after a federal judge ruled that the government could not use mismatched Social Security numbers to crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants, a coalition of immigrant advocates, faith leaders and workers gathered near the Social Security Administration headquarters in Woodlawn to voice their outrage at the proposal. ...
Interfaith Worker Justice and Maryland immigrant advocacy group Casa of Maryland sponsored the gathering of about 100 people yesterday at St. Gabriel Roman Catholic Church, just blocks from SSA headquarters. ...
Weiss said agency officials declined her group's request for a meeting to express their concerns. So after yesterday's gathering, faith leaders and advocates walked to Social Security headquarters to deliver a letter of opposition addressed to Commissioner Michael J. Astrue.
"The Social Security Administration exists to help people live with security," the letter stated. "Your Administration should never be turned into the immigration police." ...
Maria Welch, president of the Baltimore Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said that six years ago she received a "no-match" letter after she married and changed her name. "It took six months to get straightened out," she said. "The government doesn't do anything in 90 days." ...
The SSA does not have the resources to handle the crush of people responding to letters, said Witold Skwierczynski, president of the local American Federal Government Employees, which represents the agency's employees.
"We have the lowest staffing levels since 1973," he said. "Anyone who has tried to visit a Social Security office or call the 800 number knows how difficult it is to get service. ... We likely will not be able to meet the 90-day requirement, resulting in people losing their job through no fault of their own."
Belmont resident Michael Astrue was in Washington, D.C. this week, but he wasn’t there to check out the museums, see the cherry blossoms in bloom or soak up the nation’s history.He was there to become a part of it.
Astrue was sworn in as the new commissioner of Social Security on Feb. 12.
This is the second time Astrue has been an employee of the federal government — he was general counsel to the commissioner during the Reagan administration.
“It’s fun and unusual to come back two decades later. My old office is about 20 feet away from my new one,” he said.
Astrue was in Washington until 1992, when he moved back to the house he and his wife bought in 1985 on Benton Road. He started a law firm, then served as CEO of several biotech firms, including Biogen in Cambridge.
His wife, Laura Mali-Astrue, is better known to the children of Belmont as “Madame.” She has been a French teacher at the Belmont Day School for the past 14 years. This will be her last year at the school. She will join her husband in Washington in June.
The two have been “empty-nesters” since last fall, when their daughter departed for her first year of college. Their son James is a sophomore at Georgetown University in Washington.
“It will be nice to live close to him without being down his back. He told us we aren’t allowed to live within three blocks of his dorm. The place we really like is about 12 blocks away,” Astrue said.
He said James will be happy because his parents will bring their dog, Maggie, an English springer spaniel named for Margaret Thatcher.
“We got Maggie when the kids were little. They wanted to name her after a famous British woman, and the only ones they knew were Margaret Thatcher and the Spice Girls. I pushed for Margaret Thatcher,” he said.
In his new job, Astrue is responsible for administering the retirement, disability and survivors insurance programs that pay out more than $580 billion annually.
He thinks he landed the job because of an appealing blend of private management and public service experience, he said.
Many, many years ago, he said, he was a law clerk while attending Harvard University. His fellow clerk also eventually settled in Belmont, where he lives to this day. His newest job is state representative, and his name is Will Brownsberger.
The Astrues won’t be leaving Belmont for good. The commissioner’s term is six years, Astrue said, and they don’t plan to become a permanent part of Washington. He said they will probably rent out the house on Benton Road, the same way they did when he was in D.C. over 20 years ago.“We’ll miss Belmont, but we’ll be back,” he said.
In a December 2006 report cited in the court documents, the inspector general of the Social Security Administration estimated that 17.8 million of the agency’s 435 million individual records contained discrepancies that could result in a no-match letter being sent to a legally authorized worker. Of those records with errors, 12.7 million belonged to native-born Americans, the report found.
A Brushton woman has been sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay restitution of $15,000 for Social Security fraud, federal prosecutors said.
Angelette Freeze of Susquehanna Street was convicted of concealing her marriage from the Social Security administration so that she could receive Supplemental Security Income between 1998 and 2005.
A U.S. federal court judge on Wednesday granted a preliminary injunction barring the Bush administration from going ahead with a controversial program to remove illegal immigrants from the U.S. work force. ...This is important to the Social Security Administration. If those no-match letters ever go out, Social Security offices will be deluged by millions of individuals whose records contain mistakes or are out of date. Social Security's desperate staffing shortages could make this a catastrophic situation. Granting a preliminary injunction probably delays implementation for many months, perhaps even past the end of the Bush Administration.
Under the proposed program, employers notified of a "no-match" would have 90 days to confirm that an employee was in the country legally or fire him if not. ...
[Federal District Court Judge] Breyer said in his decision Wednesday that the no-match letters will result in the firing of lawfully employed workers because letters based on Social Security Administration records include numerous errors.
The agency also plans to hire about 150 ALJs and some additional hearing office support staff in the spring of 2008 – the only new hiring in FY 2008 as the agency continues to contract through attrition due to many years of congressional budget cuts far below what the President has requested.Why would budget cuts in prior years require that Social Security cut its workforce this year? I can see how budget cuts in prior years would have required staff cuts in those prior years, but now? It is certainly fair to blame a good part of the current backlogs on inadequate budgets in prior years, but staffing levels in fiscal year (FY) 2008, which just began last week, are determined by the FY 2008 budget, not the budgets in prior years.
Rita Sanders Geier has been named associate to UT Knoxville Chancellor Loren Crabtree, and will help lead intercultural efforts and implement goals of the university's diversity plan and Ready for the World initiative....
Geier was a 23-year-old faculty member at Tennessee State University in 1968 when she filed the lawsuit after the University of Tennessee announced plans to expand in Nashville. She feared that UT-Nashville would become a four-year, predominantly white school with top-notch facilities while historically black TSU would be neglected.
The suit resulted in the 2001 Geier Consent Decree, which provided $77 million in state funds over six years to diversify student populations and faculty of all state higher education institutions. Since then, more than 1,300 black students have benefited from Geier-funded scholarships at UT Knoxville. Black enrollment on the Knoxville campus has grown from 6.4 percent in 2001 to 8.2 percent in 2006. About 9 percent of this year's freshmen are black....
Prior to joining UT, Geier worked at the Social Security Administration in Washington, D.C., as executive counselor to the commissioner for special initiatives, serving as principal adviser on Medicare appeals, identity theft and other initiatives.
|Sam Brownback (3)||4%|
|Rudolph Giuliani (34)||45%|
|Mike Huckabee (5)||7%|
|Duncan Hunter (2)||3%|
|Alan Keyes (3)||4%|
|John McCain (2)||3%|
|Ron Paul (5)||7%|
|Mitt Romney (11)||15%|
|Tom Tancredo (2)||3%|
|Fred Thompson (8)||11%|
Unlike prior Fiscal Years (FY), the number of workyears allocated for processing redeterminations (RZs) and Limited Issues (LIs) in FY 2008 is larger than in FY 2007. Because of the increase in workyears, the number of High Error Profile (HEP) Redeterminations (RZs) and Limited Issues (LIs) selected will be greater than were selected in FY 2007. Also the A, B and UC profiles will again be selected.To translate this for you, it is more important to address SSI redeterminations to prevent erroneous payments of benefits than it is to answer the telephones at Social Security's field offices or to address the backlogs in processing of disability claims. In fact, it looks as if there will be a near complete hiring freeze during this fiscal year so these other problems will just get worse over the next year.
Fee payments also include payments made to eligible non-attorneys participating in the demonstration project authorized by section 303 of the Social Security Protection Act of 2004 (Pub. L. 108-203).
The Social Security Administration has signed a contract with CW Government Travel to provide online travel booking and reimbursement services, the company’s chief operating officer said Thursday.Scott Guerrero told Federal Times that SSA reached a deal with CW on Sept. 28. The company is planning to formally announce the deal Monday, Guerrero said.SSA is the last federal agency to settle on one of three E-Gov Travel vendors, nearly three years after the General Services Administration’s selection deadline passed.Guerrero would not say how much the contract is worth, but said it could last until November 2013.SSA spends $61 million on about 90,000 trips each year, Guerrero said. ...
"Medicare Costs and Retirement Security"by Alice H. Munnell
The brief's key findings are:
Medicare spending will soar, rising from 3 percent of GDP today to 8 percent of GDP in 2040.
By 2040, retirees will face:
- a nearly 20 percent increase in income tax rates to cover the government’s Medicare contribution; and
- rising out-of-pocket costs that will eat up more than half of the average Social Security benefit.
House and Senate Democrats are considering making the Labor-Health and Human Services [Fiscal Year 2008] Appropriations bill [which includes Social Security] the next major domestic policy fight with President Bush after the debate over children's health insurance. ...
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., plans to bring it up as early as Oct. 15, and sources said upon passage, House-Senate negotiators could quickly reconcile their differences and send the measure to the White House for Bush's expected veto.
The tactic would be similar to the current standoff over the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which Democrats perceive as a political winner despite lacking the votes to override a veto. ...
Bush says he will veto the Labor-HHS measure because it spends billions of dollars more than he wants; the House measure, at $11 billion above his request, fell several votes short of enough for a potential override.
The Senate version is roughly $9 billion above the request. ...
Leadership aides said Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have discussed the option but have not made a final decision, in part because the Labor-HHS bill has to clear the Senate. That is shaping up to be at least a weeklong battle with contentious debate over stem-cell language, which Bush is likely to threaten a veto over, as well as funding priorities and earmarks.
One reason Reid has delayed the Labor-HHS measure thus far is because Republicans have threatened numerous amendments.
An orphan is being asked to refund money paid to him 30 years ago by the Social Security Administration.Jay Rovang, 50, is a disabled man on a fixed income. He said he got a letter from SSA, stating that it wants to collect benefits it overpaid him totaling $662. ...
A Social Security representative said the agency puts no time limit on collecting overpayments. The representative said it was only recently when Rovang started receiving disability checks that the system was triggered to collect the childhood debt.The letter to Rovang says Social Security will deduct the overpayment from his December disability check, leaving him with $421 for the entire month.
The Italian government reached an agreement on pension reform with Italy's four largest labor unions in late July 2007. The government expects to pass legislation to raise the full retirement age to 57. If the new legislation is passed, thefull retirement age will increase from the current age 55 to age 57 over the next 4 years. The existing law requires that the retirement age increase immediately to age 60 on January 1, 2008. The government estimates that once this proposed legislation is enacted, Italians could retire with full pensions 3 or more years earlier at a cost of €10 billion (US$13.6 billion) more than under the existing law.
Plans to close the Auburn Social Security office this month again sparked opposition from one federal official Wednesday.
In a letter to the agency's commissioner, U.S. Rep. Michael Arcuri, D-Utica, argues the Social Security Administration is not using an projected $401 million increase in federal funds as anticipated. Arcuri first spoke out against the office's closure in June.
"Through my meetings with SSA staff regarding this matter, it has been made clear that additional administrative funding was a critical step to staving off closure of the Auburn office," the congressman wrote to SSA Commissioner Michael Astrue. "I find it troubling that SSA would move forward with any district office closures this year before the agency's budget for fiscal year 2008 is finalized." ...
"It seems obvious to me that two things have happened: No. 1, SSA has made no effort whatsoever to fill staffing voids in Auburn and No. 2, the decrease in visitors can be attributed to the decrease in available services and convenient office hours for the general public," Arcuri wrote, requesting another meeting with SSA officials.
- Auburn, NY -- Senators Schumer (D) and Clinton (D), Representative Arcuri (D)
- Bristol, CT -- Senators Dodd (D) and Lieberman (I, but caucuses with Democrats), Reprentatives Larson (D) and Murphy (D)
- Carbondale, PA -- Senators Spector (R, but increasingly acting in an independent manner) and Casey (D), Representative Carney (D)
- Dickinson, ND -- probable closure, but nothing definite -- Senators Conrad (D) and Dorgan (D), Representative Pomeroy (D -- member of Social Security Subcommittee who talked about how he had been lied to by former Commissioner Barnhart and how the ALJ hiring situation at Social Security was a "god-damned outrage")
- San Pedro, CA -- Senators Feinstein (D) and Boxer (D), Representatives Harman (D) and Rohrabacher (R)
- Slidell, LA -- Senators Landrieu (D) and Vitter (R), Representative Jindal (R) (This office closure was probably inevitable due to the population loss in the area following the hurricane.)
The Social Security Administration is resisting proposed rule changes aimed at fixing longstanding errors that have resulted in tens of millions of dollars in erroneous overpayments to beneficiaries.
More than 44,000 people have received approximately $140 million in extra, undeserved payments because of clerical and other errors by the Social Security Administration (SSA), according to recent estimates by the agency's inspector general.
What's more, the SSA has continued making overpayments even after learning of errors because of an internal rule known as "administrative finality."
Under the policy, the SSA cannot reduce benefits for disability and other beneficiaries after four years except in cases of fraud, even if they later learn that incorrect calculations are responsible for the overpayments.
"We believe that when SSA discovers errors in the payments to beneficiaries, the agency should correct them rather than continuing the errors in future benefit payments," Patrick P. O'Carroll Jr., inspector general for the SSA, wrote in a report sent to Congress and SSA officials last week.
A presidential commission will call Wednesday for an immediate 25 percent increase in veterans’ disability compensation while awaiting a larger overhaul of disability and transition benefits. ...
With the Bush administration already balking at the $4 billion increase in veterans’ health care and benefits programs being pushed by Congress, it is unlikely that administration officials would support further increases. ...
The commission comes down squarely on the side of veterans on several controversial issues. For example, it supports allowing disabled retirees to receive full veterans’ disability compensation and military retired pay when they are eligible for both, and to allow survivors to receive their full veterans’ and military survivors’ benefits.
|Joe Biden (0)||0%|
|Hillary Clinton (77)||65%|
|Chris Dodd (4)||3%|
|John Edwards (13)||11%|
|Mike Gravel (3)||3%|
|Dennis Kucinich (2)||2%|
|Barack Obama (10)||8%|
|Bill Richardson (2)||2%|
|None of the above (2)||2%|
|Don't know (6)||5%|
A 73-year-old Sacramento woman pled guilty in federal court Monday to stealing more than $91,000 in Social Security funds.
Margaret Williams admitted to federal prosecutors that for nearly 35 years, she collected disability benefits under her true Social Security number while working under a fraudulent Social Security number, according to a news release by the office of U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott.
In 1953, Williams was assigned a legitimate Social Security number that she used to work and then to collect disability benefits with until 1988. In 1971, a second Social Security number was issued to Williams, who obtained it using a different name, false birthplace, false parent names and false birthdate. She began working under the fraudulent Social Security number in 1973, the release states.