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Apr 13, 2010

A National Disgrace

From the Bradenton, FL Herald:

We cannot imagine the suffering not only from debilitating pain but from the extreme wait times for hearings on applications for Social Security Disability Insurance. The average wait in Florida stands at 470 days.

That is unconscionable. And unacceptable.

Sarasota resident Thomas Presha’s fate is worse. He’s been waiting more than two years for a hearing before a Social Security Administration administrative law judge. ...

How can a civilized society let that happen? ...

Presha’s Bradenton attorney, Terri F. Cromley, calls the current setup a “horrible process,” one that has left many of her clients homeless. ...

Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, has the right idea. She’s pushing legislation that would force the SSA to schedule a hearing within five business days of receiving a request, actually holding the hearing between 60 to 75 days later, and then issuing a decision within another 15 days of the hearing. That’s far more reasonable and certainly more humane. ...

This is a national disgrace. Congress should pass Castor’s measure, and President Obama should sign it into law.

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  • 14 Comments:

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I agree with Rep. Castor's suggestion, but it has a snowball's chance in Hell of actually being implemented. It's unfortunate that this is situation, but this is a problem that has spiraled so far out of control it may never regain balance.

    3:15 PM, April 13, 2010  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    These type articles always make me smile. The folks who write them have ZERO idea of the amount of resources it would take to make their wishes come true. If they were true to their convictions they would be begging for taxes raises or voluntarily donating money to SSA.

    3:18 PM, April 13, 2010  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    #2

    Would you like to read a previous comment of mine? For your covience,i shall re-print it.


    "It's interesting to note,for some people,the only way to create federal savings is to eliminate benefits(ie,perhaps change existing regulations).

    It's clear to me,government employment and accompanying salaries is the biggest entitlement program. If government truly want to find savings,they would trim the current salaries being paid".

    4:36 PM, April 13, 2010  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Anon #2 is right on the money. To get to this level, the field office staff (including hearing offices) would need to double. That being said, about 1/3 of the positions at HQ could be eliminated and not be missed. I have worked at both, and the inequity in workload distribution is amazing.

    4:55 PM, April 13, 2010  
    Blogger poo paw said...

    I agree this has the proverbial snowball's chance. The fact it is suggested shows the Congress person's lack of understanding of what the proposal would cost. As things are now, there has been a drastic decline in the quality of decisions. This is manifested mainly in ill-considered favorables because they are quick and are not reviewed. That is the most expensive way to fix the backlog. If this were to become law, all cases would pay if the claimant appeared for a hearing and was not working. Disability would be unemployment insurance.

    The 3rd poster, it would seem, would find this "covient" unless he/she is among the 50% who pay taxes.

    6:41 PM, April 13, 2010  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    How is a job an entitlement? I agree that CO is overstaffed and that SSA should be more localized. But to cut employment of front line staff is inane. These are the people who make the agency work. Give it a rest, dude.

    8:28 PM, April 13, 2010  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Upper level management is bloated with outrageous salaries and no direct production work. There should be a two year program where every ivory tower managment person has to go out in the field once every two years for a one year period in a regular FO,DO,HO (and I don't mean that rediculous Leadership program). I include all RO, FC, and WL management in this. The Agency is a mess because there are too many Chiefs (who have no idea how the field works) and not enough Indians. If you have never done the job how can you tell people how to do it or help them do it better. You can't and that is why everything is such a mess.

    If it is any consolation, it is this way at every Federal Agency.

    Alice

    11:22 PM, April 13, 2010  
    Anonymous John Herling said...

    If Rep. Cantor's proposal were to become law, how could it be enforced?

    7:42 AM, April 14, 2010  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Actually a wildly inefficient idea.

    First you would need an even bigger round of hiring (more offices, more office space, more computers, more phones, more training, more processing power on the network). Then once the backlog is cleared, you are grossly over-staffed because at that point you are just processing at the same rate as the applications and no longer need the capacity it took to clear the backlog.

    So then you reduce workforce which overall hurts the government in its ability to hire in the future. Remember people are willing to accept the lower pay rate in large part because of the job security. If job security is undermined it will require more competitive pay to attract good people.

    You now have too much office space and too much equipment which will mostly sell at GSA auction at pennies on the dollar paid.

    There will also be strong political opposition from some reps who like to let a case stew to improve the fee.

    9:46 AM, April 14, 2010  
    Anonymous Nancy Ortiz said...

    A#6, the last thing we need in FO's is a bunch of CO people hanging around who take up FTE's without knowing anything or contributing anything. Worse, such people suffer from the delusion that meetings are work and demand endless meetings, agendas for meetings, reports on meetings, and of course, meetings to plan for more meetings. Whatever we do, we should not under any circumstances invite such people down to our street level production world. It's just not their kind of reality.

    12:44 PM, April 14, 2010  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    This whole thing deserves one big LOL.

    The backlog is atrocious, but one sweet little ODAR field trip would probably knock Rep. Castor off her high horse fast. How many more HO's, ALJ's, support staff, and outright miracles would those deadlines require?!

    It's also funny to imagine Congress trying to enforce that law...

    4:05 PM, April 14, 2010  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The "covient" Anon's obsession with trimming federal salaries is really OTT.

    Just hazarding a guess... jilted by SSA in multiple hiring rounds past?

    4:25 PM, April 14, 2010  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Nancy,

    I agree with your sentiment whole heartedly. However, if we start making the mucky mucks work in the trenches every two years for a period of one year, we would see some good changes. Yes it would be odious in the beginning, but worth it in the long run.

    Alice

    11:51 PM, April 14, 2010  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    this is a dream program but something very serious needs to be done about the wait and the fact that these people became homeless waiting for the wait for the ssa decision. the back log is out of hand and they know it.

    3:13 AM, April 15, 2010  

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