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Mar 24, 2010

Scrooge Cadre?

An anonymous poster on the ALJ Discussion Forum says that the Social Security administration is planning to create a "cadre" of Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) to hear Social Security overpayment cases. This is being referred to as a "Scrooge cadre" since it is speculated that Social Security wants to reduce the number of cases in which overpayments are being waived.

Can anyone confirm this?

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    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The majority of ALJ's have little or no knowledge of the technical aspects of the programs. They are primarily focused on medical/vocational issues. I would think this has more to do with establishing a group of ALJ's with the training and expertise necessary to make sound decisions on overpayment related hearings, something I think is lacking at this point in time.

    11:59 AM, March 24, 2010  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I know several ALJs who would be imminently well-qualified to be part of this group.

    12:14 PM, March 24, 2010  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I dare anyone to show the same file to 10 experienced DO people and get less than 3 answers as to the correct overpayment amount in theory. ODAR has much less expertise in the area; we have to have the DO people show up or it would be hopeless.

    12:22 PM, March 24, 2010  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    One way to reduce overpayment appeals is to increase the quality of the DO determinations. Regardless of how "right" the DO is in their calculations, it is meaningless if they cannot articulate their findings in a way that an average claimant could understand what happened. If the ALJ can't understand the DO letters, how can you expect the claimants to? It is not unreasonable for a claimant to want to understand why the DO is asking for $23,000 back. And the file should be clear enough that DO testimony is not necessary.

    4:10 PM, March 24, 2010  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Amen A. #4! I frequently get OP files which are complete gibberish. If I've seen the file soon enough before the hearing I ask for a complete statement of the case. Usually doesn't get any better on the second go round, if there is one. I have had files in which the same overpayment was both waived and not waived.

    If the DO will make the case clear, ALJ decisions will improve.

    5:00 PM, March 24, 2010  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Most overpayments these days are eminently waiveable(waivable?) because of the understaffing of FO's, poor information provided by the 800#, complexity of rules, and other factors. There is a $1000.00 tolerance right off the bat.People cannot reach the FO's to report changes due to inadequate phone service and often non-existent walk-in interviews. There is little that can be accomplished at the ODAR level to address this, except to finally waive even the few that make it through the recon/waiver/personal conference stages.

    7:44 PM, March 24, 2010  

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