Michigan residents have been waiting two or even three years to have their disability cases heard before the Social Security Administration.
New Social Security hearing offices in Mt. Pleasant and in Livonia are intended as ways to alleviate those long waits.
The Mt. Pleasant office opened Oct. 19; Livonia's opened in August. ...
"We already have reduced the average time it takes to process hearings in Michigan from 693 days in fiscal year 2008 to 533 days this year."[said Carmen Moreno, Regional Communications Director for Social Security] ...
A new office in Marquette is planned next year.
Oct 31, 2010
Oct 30, 2010
Oct 29, 2010
I am curious. Have these furloughs been an issue in gubernatorial races around the country, particularly in California?
Oct 28, 2010
I support voluntary personal accounts for younger workers that would allow them to build a nest egg for retirement that they would own and control, and could pass on to their families. This will permanently strengthen Social Security, without changing benefits for those now in or near retirement, and without raising payroll taxes on workers. Inheritance rights in personal accounts would especially help widows who depend on Social Security and eliminate the need for cumbersome regulations that too often deny individuals from receiving their benefits in a timely fashion.
Oct 27, 2010
I do not recall any ACUS report on Social Security that had any useful effect. It was and is now composed primarily of law school professors and attorneys at large Washington, D.C. law firm, none of whom have any particular knowledge or experience with Social Security. This is unfortunate since the Social Security Administration simply does more administrative law than all other federal agencies combined. Nevertheless, it is good to see ACUS back in operation. I hope that any studies they do of Social Security are done after consultation with people who do have Social Security experience.
I never understood what the Republicans had against ACUS other than their desire to make government so small that it can be drowned in a bathtub.
Oct 26, 2010
Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 12:54 PM
To: Undisclosed recipients
Subject: COMMISSIONER’S BROADCAST--10/26/10
A Message To All SSA And DDS Employees
Subject: Robert (Bob) Bynum
I am sad to report the passing of Bob Bynum on October 16, 2010, at the age of 89. Bob began his 32-year career in 1948 as a Field Assistant in Montgomery, Alabama and retired in 1980 as the Deputy Commissioner for Programs. Bob also served as the first District Manager in Selma, Alabama, the Associate Commissioner for Program Operations, and the Regional Commissioner for Atlanta. After retirement, Bob continued to serve through volunteer work.
To learn more about his legacy, see the transcript of a 1996 interview by visiting http://www.socialsecurity.gov/history/orals/bynum.html. An obituary is available at http://obits.al.com/obituaries/birmingham/obituary.aspx?n=robert-paul-bynum-bob&pid=146070218.
Michael J. Astrue
Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, today joined Congressman John Tanner and local officials at a groundbreaking ceremony for the agency’s new teleservice center (TSC) in Jackson, Tennessee. The Jackson TSC will be the first new call center opened by Social Security in more than a decade. When completed, it will create almost 200 new jobs for residents in the Jackson area. ...
The Jackson call center ... is expected to open by late 2011.
The grand opening Monday of the new Social Security Administration building at 6810 S. U.S. 1 resembled a “mob scene” at the shopping malls the day after Thanksgiving, as one resident described.
People lined up outside the building at 8 a.m., but the doors didn’t open until 10 a.m.
“It was like Black Friday at Best Buy,” said Port St. Lucie resident Peggie Nattutat. “When the door started to open, people came down on it like it was the flood.”
Daniel Borello, Social Security Administration district manager, said the administration moved into the new 14,000-square-foot building Friday and encountered a few glitches Monday, but now everything is OK.
Social Security Administration employees this year will receive an extra day off to celebrate Thanksgiving, according to a report from Federal News Radio's Mike Causey.The day after Thanksgiving AND Columbus Day AND President's Day?
SSA Commissioner Michael Astrue told nonemergency employees they do not have to report to work on Nov. 26, the Friday after Thanksgiving. Thursday is a federal holiday. Friday won't be considered a holiday for pay and leave purposes, but workers will receive their normal pay, according to Astrue.
According to Causey's report, Astrue said SSA employees have "faced unprecedented workloads and unprecedented hostility from an increasingly stressed public. While many government agencies understandably have moved backward in this climate, you have moved forward."It's not clear yet whether other agencies and departments will follow SSA's example.
Oct 25, 2010
Inconsistency in Social Security's treatment of its employees involved in this matter was a major issue raised by the union. One huge problem for Social Security was that the agency's Office of Inspector General (OIG) had investigated what had happened in Little Rock but the agency refused to disclose the entire OIG file, leading the arbitrator to presume that the agency was hiding exculpatory information.
The end result in this arbitration was that the employee was ordered restored to her job and was given $100,000 in compensatory damages and another $100,000 in punitive damages. I am not familiar with this sort of thing. Does it get worse than this for an agency?
Oct 24, 2010
Pacifica police Capt. Fernando Realyvasquez got a letter in 2007 he had waited 14 years to receive.
It was from the Social Security Administration and said the agency had located a man named Dedy Idris, who was wanted for allegedly molesting several young girls in Pacifica.
Today, nearly three years after that envelope landed on Realyvasquez's desk, Idris, 65, is slated to be sentenced in San Mateo County Superior Court on 10 counts of child molestation. ...
Idris had applied for benefits, and a routine check had turned up the 14-year-old arrest warrant.
Oct 23, 2010
Oct 22, 2010
From WEAR-TV in Pensacola, FL:
That kitten certainly looks vicious to me!A suspicious package at a central Florida Social Security office turned out to be a box with two kittens.
Authorities say the box was found early Friday on the front steps of the building. A bomb squad examined the box and found the kittens. One of them ran away and hasn't been found. The other will be taken to an animal shelter.
McEwen apparently began her career as an ALJ at Social Security not long after the Thomas confirmation hearing. She later moved on to the Securities and Exchange Commission.For nearly two decades, Lillian McEwen has been silent -- a part of history, yet absent from it.
When Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his explosive 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Thomas vehemently denied the allegations and his handlers cited his steady relationship with another woman in an effort to deflect Hill's allegations.
Lillian McEwen was that woman.At the time, she was on good terms with Thomas. The former assistant U.S. attorney and Senate Judiciary Committee counsel had dated him for years, even attending a March 1985 White House state dinner as his guest ...
Now, she says that Thomas often said inappropriate things about women he met at work -- and that she could have added her voice to the others, but didn't.Over the years, reporters and biographers approached her eager to know more about Thomas from women who knew him well. But McEwen remained mum. She said she saw "nothing good" coming out of talking to reporters about Thomas, whom she said she still occasionally met. ...
Today, McEwen is 65 and retired from a successful career as a prosecutor, law professor and administrative law judge for federal agencies.
The JBG Cos. of Chevy Chase won the bid to develop a 538,000-square-foot Social Security Administration campus opposite the new Reisterstown Metro station to replace offices in downtown Baltimore, city officials announced Tuesday.
The $150 million complex will transform the northwest corner of the city, an area of low-slung retail and residential properties that Maryland and Baltimore officials have targeted for transit-oriented development. JBG will design and build two office buildings, five and seven stories tall, with a parking garage and day care center.
Construction of the office building, which includes 1,076 parking spaces, is to start next year and be completed in 2014. ...
The new center, 6100 Wabash Ave., will replace the existing Social Security Metro West center. ...
The federal agency has had a long and tortured relationship with the city since it opened its headquarters near Baltimore's waterfront in 1936. It served as a path to middle-class security for thousands of residents, including many blacks who otherwise were shut out of most jobs in the segregated city.
But Social Security's biggest expansion and economic impact came in 1960 when it moved its headquarters to Woodlawn in Baltimore County, spurring an explosion of growth north of the city. The agency eventually opened a new city office complex at 300 N. Greene St. on Baltimore's downtown west side in 1980, but employment there has steadily dwindled.
Before you assign the blame to Social Security, let me tell you that the federal Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP) has a longstanding reputation for being incredibly incompetent. There are many attorneys who have handled one federal workers compensation case and decided that they never wanted to mess with OWCP ever again. At the moment, I am not sure that there is any attorney in the state of North Carolina who regularly takes on federal workers compensation cases. Around here, even the federal employee unions do not know who to refer these cases to. OWCP is the biggest mess of any agency, federal or state, that I have ever dealt with. Social Security has real problems with workers compensation offsets in general but difficulty in getting information from OWCP almost certainly exacerbates the problem for claimants receiving federal workers compensation benefits.
Oct 21, 2010
From the Chattanooga Times Free Press:
Judy Duncan had worked in the same place for more than 40 years.Over that time, her knees began to give out and, when she was laid off three years ago, she already was medically disabled, she said. ...
At 63, the East Ridge resident was able to get by in her job as an insurance company office clerk because she knew the job like the back of her hand and her employer accommodated her limitations, she said.
But when she found herself unemployed at the start of a worldwide economic crisis, her physical problems made it impossible to get back into the work force. ...
Duncan, with the help of her attorney, was approved for disability compensation seven months after losing her job.
There are thousands of other Americans just like Duncan, and they are fueling a large spike in applications for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.
Nationally, applications were up 17 percent from 2007 to 2009. In Georgia and Tennessee, applications are up more than 25 percent in the same time frame, Social Security Administration numbers show.Claims have risen so much, Georgia requested another 100 federally funded staffers to sort and handle the paperwork. Starting in mid-November, 35 of those employees will staff a new Claims Adjudication Office in Dalton, Ga. ...
Disability claims have been on the rise for years because of aging baby boomers whose ailments make work too difficult. But the latest spike, seen over the last three years, is fueled by both boomers and the economy, officials say.
From the Sun Journal of Maine:
Thousands of people in the River Valley area, and Oxford and Franklin counties are expected to visit the Rumford Public Library soon for their Social Security needs rather than drive to Auburn.
Late Wednesday morning, representatives from the U.S. Social Security Administration, and Maine offices joined congressional, state and local officials in touting the administration's new real-time video service program.
The program, which allows people to file a claim or complete Social Security business face-to-face via a two-way video monitor with a representative about 50 miles away in Auburn, is the first of its kind to debut in New England, Jennifer M. Bowie, Social Security district manager in Portland, said.
Ways and Means Social Security Chairman Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) today released the results of a study from the Chief Actuary of Social Security analyzing several proposals, including those advanced by Republican Congressional leaders, as ways to reduce the long-term cost of Social Security. The analysis reveals that, contrary to the assertions by their proponents, these proposals would have a profoundly negative impact on the retirement security of middle-class seniors in addition to high-income retirees. ...
The Office of the Chief Actuary analyzed several proposals - including those by Budget Committee Ranking Member, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) - that claim to make "modest" changes affecting higher-income seniors in order to "save" Social Security.
"The new analysis reveals that these proposals result in benefits cuts ranging from ten percent to as high as 50 percent,” continued Pomeroy.
Ryan spokesman Conor Sweeney said [Social Security's chief actuary, Stephen] Goss did not analyze the full effect of Ryan's plan to balance the federal budget and ignored Ryan's proposal to guarantee a higher minimum benefit to low-income retirees. More to the point, Sweeney said, failing to overhaul Social Security - which is already paying out more than it collects from payroll taxes - will cause more immediate harm.
"According to the Social Security Administration, Congressman Pomeroy's do-nothing plan will impose painful, across-the-board benefit cuts on current seniors and those nearing retirement," Sweeney said. "It is deeply irresponsible for elected leaders to stand idle with icy indifference as the social safety net collapses."
Oct 20, 2010
Watch out for callers who try to get your personal information, Social Security warns.
The latest telephone scam appears to be targeted at the Latino community. In this scam, the caller tells beneficiaries that they will be receiving additional payments from Social Security. All they need to do is verify their bank account information and Social Security Number in order to receive these funds. The caller also told beneficiaries that they would not receive the money unless they provided the requested information by a specified date.
Click here to find out more!
As a general rule, Social Security will not call you for your personal information such as your Social Security Number or banking information.
"If something about a call doesn't feel right, it probably isn't legitimate," Social Security Regional Communications Director Leslie Walker warned.
In a May 20, 2010 letter, you requested that we conduct an audit of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Financial Literacy Initiative. Specifically, you requested that we determine (1) why SSA considered its Financial Literacy Research Consortium (FLRC) necessary; (2) whether SSA coordinated with other agencies or the Office of Management and Budget to ensure research and development efforts were not duplicative; and (3) what SSA’s expert panel found when reviewing the FLRC grant proposals. ...Was this plan in the works before Michael Astrue took office?
In April 2009, SSA published a Request for Applications (RFA) soliciting research proposals for a 5-year cooperative agreement for which SSA would award grants. ...
In the first stage of the review process, SSA deemed all 10 applications received to be responsive to the RFA criteria.
The second stage called for an expert panel to conduct a technical review and score applications. SSA selected a 12-member expert panel to provide seasoned and respected input. The panel was highly diverse with respect to expertise, organizational representation and outlook, and personal demographics. The panel included Federal executives, experts from the private sector, and academia. ...
After the official review and scoring was complete, some panel members discussed the non-scoring feedback they provided to SSA. Because many had concerns about the proposals, 8 of the 12 expert panelists signed and submitted a letter to SSA contracting personnel. The letter stated that panel members did not believe SSA should fund any of the submitted proposals because they did not address the needs discussed in the RFA. The letter also stated that SSA should cancel the RFA and develop a new one if it wished to focus on improving financial management and decision-making among lower- and middle-income Americans. ...
Results of Review ...
When developing the RFA, requesting resources for the initiative, and ultimately funding the proposed activities of the research centers, SSA coordinated with OMB, other Federal agencies, academia, and leading experts in the field of financial literacy. Although avoiding duplication with other research and development activities may not have been SSA’s primary goal, the Agency was proactive in briefing numerous stakeholders regarding its plans. ...
In our interviews with 11 of the 12 expert panel members, almost all echoed the concerns outlined in the letter they sent to SSA contracting personnel after reviewing and scoring the FLRC grant applications. In fact, although only 8 of the 12 panel members signed the letter, 10 of the 11 we interviewed generally agreed with the concerns expressed. ...
Because SSA officials did not believe Federal grant-making rules allowed them to discuss the concerns expressed in the letter with the expert panel members, SSA did not directly respond to the panel’s letter. ...
In response to congressional questions about duplication of other initiatives, the Commissioner of Social Security responded, “Now that I am aware of these concerns, I have directed staff to closely monitor the progress of the FLRC . . . I will thoroughly review this situation and determine if further action is necessary.” ...
In addition to the concerns expressed in their letter, some panelists told us they had other concerns with the FLRC review process. For example, most of the panelists told us there was a lack of communication with SSA during and/or after the FLRC review. One panelist told us that SSA representatives who were present during the full panel meeting did not want to address panelists’ concerns. In fact, one panelist told us if SSA decisionmakers had addressed their concerns during the panel meeting, they probably would not have written the letter. ...
One panel member stated that, to an extent, the panel’s criticism of the proposals reflected criticism of the financial literacy initiative as a whole. He said that SSA was “reinventing the wheel” in that the proposals were similar to efforts already undertaken by other Federal agencies and nonprofit organizations. ...
One panel member believed the panel was uncertain what the RFA was trying to accomplish. She believed the centers receiving the panel’s top scores were already receiving substantial funding from other sources, and she did not think any of the proposals would accomplish more than what was already being done in the area.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) , Region VI Dallas Region, intends to solicit for Fraud Investigation Services for the Dallas Region VI Cooperative Disability Investigations Unit (CDI) located in Houston, TX. The requirement is for the investigation of suspected fraud activities against the Social Security Administration's Title II and Title XVI Disability Programs (including Title XIX Medicaid) in the Houston, TX metropolitan area. The contractor shall provide the necessary personnel, materials, services, equipment and perform all tasks necessary for or incidental to providing the required services. The contractor must be able to provide the following: (1) State wide arrest authority as defined by the statutes and regulations of the State of Texas; (2) Access to reports which are restricted to law enforcement officials; (3) A license to carry a concealed weapon (must be armed); (4) Training in arrest techniques and (5) A valid certification by a Class A Law Enforcement Department (6) Ability to testify in court.
Oct 19, 2010
From Political Brief:
Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wrote to his counterpart today asking for GOP support on helping social security recipients who will not receive cost-of-living adjustments next year.
In a letter to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Reid urges the Republican to support Democratic legislation that would provide one-time $250 checks to seniors in 2011. ...
Reid’s letter was co-signed by 18 other Senate Democrats ...
From the Associated Press:
Masked youths clashed with police and set fires in cities across France on Tuesday as protests against a proposed hike in the retirement age took an increasingly radical turn. Hundreds of flights were canceled, long lines formed at gas stations and train service in many regions was cut in half. ...
The protesters are trying to prevent the French parliament from approving a bill that would raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 ...
- The mean Quality Rating (QR) of the CE’s reviewed was 2.97 within a range of 1-5: “1” represents an unsatisfactory and unredeemable CE Report and “5” a superbly documented, consistent, and logical report. This finding implies that the majority of CE Reports reviewed were sufficient to provide the DDS with enough clinical information to make an informed claim decision, but were deficient in the amount of clinical detail provided. The common deficiencies noted included: an inadequate history of present illness(es), failure to note medications or medication dosages, an absent or incomplete review of systems, omissions of important details of the physical findings, most commonly involving the musculoskeletal or neurological body systems, and an absent or qualitative medical source statement (MSS).
- Medical evidence of record (MER) was often not forwarded to CE providers. On the other hand, when MER was forwarded, it was unusual to find in CE Reports an adequate description of what items of MER were reviewed by the CE provider. COMS did not find any current policy or regulatory guidance requiring the inclusion of such information in CE Reports.
- The mean QR for CE’s associated with allowance decisions was statistically higher than for denials.
- COMS found that about 25% of X-Rays purchased by DDS’s as part of the CE process were probably unnecessary. Also, most purchased X-Rays, even when apparently indicated based on other CE findings or MER, do not demonstrate important pathological findings for SSA purposes.
- A consistent theme expressed by the DDS’s is that it is difficult at current fee levels to recruit and (retain) CE providers, especially specialists.
Oct 18, 2010
Region X of the Social Security wishes to identify vendors who may provide Verbatim Hearing Recordings (VHR) at various locations. The government contemplates the pursuit of up to three Indefinite Quantity Indefinite Delivery type contracts. One contract would provide all VHR needs in the States of Washington and Idaho, one contract would provide all VHR needs in the State of Oregon, and one contact would provide all VHR needs in the State of Alaska. The period of performance would be one year, with four one-year option periods.
Can someone tell me what is going on? This is not such a small thing to the hundreds of people who work as hearing reporters.
Compare the processing time as it has changed over time:
- January 25, 2007 -- 508 days
- February 29, 2008 -- 511 days
- March 8, 2009 -- 499 days
- April 24, 2009 -- 505 days
- June 3, 2009 -- 505 days
- September 29, 2009 -- 472 days
- July 5, 2010 -- 415 days
- July 30, 2010 -- 410
- September 5, 2010 -- 398 days
Oct 17, 2010
President Obama will press Congress to send a one-time payment of $250 to senior citizens to help them get through another year without an increase in their Social Security benefits, White House officials said Friday. ...
But the plan faces opposition in the Senate, which defeated a similar measure last year, and among Republicans concerned about long-term funding of the Social Security system.
The American Federation of Government Employees questions the validity of SSA management claims that progress is being made on disability claims backlogs; and that efficient management practices are improving office performances. “While resources are limited and field office staffing levels have not increased in relation to additional workloads, SSA management continues to use smoke and mirrors in measuring the amount of work completed at field offices,” noted Witold Skwierczynski, president of AFGE’s Council of Field Operations Locals for the Social Security Administration. “SSA management has been manipulating the disability claims process, making it appear that offices have become much more efficient due to management improvements, when the biggest increase has been in claims that are denied on technical grounds.”
Such manipulations include processing claims for individuals who clearly are ineligible for benefits, and padding statistics by taking unnecessary actions such as reissuing Medicare cards to every client in the office whether or not they request such cards. ...
“It’s outrageous that some SSA managers are condoning the practice of using system tricks and having employees do unnecessary work to better statistical performance. These practices adversely affect service delivery at SSA and detract from the mission of the agency to assist those in need,” concluded Skwierczynski.
Oct 16, 2010
Oct 15, 2010
President Barack Obama said on Thursday he favored raising more revenue for Social Security to prolong the solvency of the U.S. retirement fund, rather than just cutting benefits or making people work longer.
Obama told a televised youth town hall event that he thought the best approach was to increase the amount of income subject to Social Security taxes above the current cap set around $106,000, but he did not rule anything out.
I am unable to comprehend why Democrats did not schedule this vote done before the election. I have to guess that Representative Pomeroy pressed for a vote before the election.
Oct 14, 2010
From The Oregonian:
A federal magistrate on Wednesday ordered Social Security lawyer Daniel A. Bernath to undergo anger management counseling after an altercation with a judge on a downtown Portland elevator last spring.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul J. Papak found Bernath guilty of disorderly conduct for the March 31 dust-up with Dan R. Hyatt, a judge in Social Security's disability hearing office.
Papak dressed Bernath down for his behavior -- such as lampooning Hyatt on his web site as a Ku Klux Klansman and behaving like a pre-schooler fighting for a swing -- and said officers of the court are expected to treat judges with respect.
"This trial," said Papak, "is an embarrassment, in my mind."
The tiff on the lift climaxed a three-year war of words between Bernath, of Tigard, who represents clients in disability cases, and Hyatt, one of the judges who hears those claims at the Portland hearing office. Their squabbles -- which include dueling bar complaints, claims of slander and a $10 million lawsuit -- were chronicled in a July story in The Oregonian.
Oct 13, 2010
We are revising our rules on a temporary basis to permit State agency disability examiners to make fully favorable determinations in certain claims for disability benefits under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (Act) without the approval of a State agency medical or psychological consultant. These changes apply only to claims we consider under our rules for quick disability determinations (QDD) or under our compassionate allowance initiative.
Oct 12, 2010
What I wonder is whether this encryption even helps secure these files. Doesn't Social Security have to send all the information needed to decrypt the files when it sends the CD to the person representing the claimant? A CD with no identifying information is useless. A CD with full identifying information can be decrypted by anyone. Social Security could send the CDs with just the name or the Social Security number but that is problematic. Unless the attorney is using a database -- and most do not -- sending just the Social Security number would not be enough to allow the attorney to figure out whose CD it is. For that matter, it is not difficult to go online and find out a person's identity using their Social Security number. Sending just the name would not be enough in many cases to allow identification of the claimant. A friend of mine who practices in Texas has told me that he has many clients with identical names such as Jose Rodriguez or Maria Hernandez. I do not have so many Hispanic clients but my firm certainly has clients with duplicate names. It happens all the time.
You can contribute to Pomeroy's campaign online. It would be a shame if this able, experienced and decent man is swept out of office by a candidate who has been endorsed by Sarah Palin, a candidate who has proposed that the nation "save" Social Security by drilling for oil in our national parks.
Oct 11, 2010
Although SSA’s cost systems were not set up to specifically track and accumulate training costs in one report or management information system, we reviewed the available financial data and estimated the Agency spent approximately $409 million on training-related activities in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009, representing about 3.8 percent of SSA’s $10.7 billion administrative budget. This amount does not include training costs incurred by the State disability determination services, which we estimated could be another $64 million. SSA incurred approximately $9.7 million in off-site conference costs in FY 2009, or about 2.4 percent of the estimated $409 million spent by the Agency on training in FY 2009 (and less than 0.1 percent of the Agency’s administrative budget). Beginning in FY 2010, off-site conferences became subject to centralized oversight to ensure such training closely adhered to the Agency’s training procurement policies.
From Federal Computer Week:
The Social Security Administration’s recent video competition generated fewer than 10 entries, and is the latest in a string of federal video-production promotions with lackluster participation.
The contests to create original videos are part of open government/innovation programs at several agencies. In April, a video contest at the Environmental Protection Agency drew in about 20 entries, and another one at the General Services Administration attracted about 30 entries. Both those competitions offered $2,500 prizes.
The SSA contest to create a publicity video for the agency offered no cash prize, yet generated high hopes. “We anticipated selecting the winner – or even several – from a sizable collection of contest entries," Frank Baitman, SSA chief information officer, wrote on the White House Open Government Blog on Oct. 1. "Well, we didn’t get as much participation as we’d hoped. Fewer than ten solid entries came in.”
Dear Colleague:We are writing to tell you about an important change that furthers our commitment to protect our claimants' personal information.In October, we will begin a pilot program to encrypt the claim folder CDs sent to you by the Social Security Administrations' Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. We expect to expand the pilot rapidly, so that by the end of 20 10, we will be encrypting all CDs sent to appointed representatives and medical/vocational experts. We developed the decryption password formula in collaboration with members of the appointed representative community. The encrypted CDs are easy to use and provide a major and necessary improvement in safeguarding the personally identifiable information in our possession. We huve enclosed a guide that describes the process.We appreciate your ongoing support to help strengthen the security and privacy of our claimant'sdata.
Office of Electronic Services and Strategic Information
Associate Commissioner Acting Associate Commissioner
Office of Electronic Services and Office of Budget, Facilities and Security
Opening an Encrypted CDNo additional software is necessary to read the information on the encrypted CD. The following instructions will allow proper viewing of the contents of the CD.1. Insert the Electronic Folder CD into your PC's CDROM drive.2. Double click on "My Computer"; next double-click on your PC's CDROM drive to display the contents of the CD.3. Double-click on the pme.exe file located on the CD.
4. Enter the Account Name and Password; click OK.
Account Name: ssa
All ODAR encrypted media will use the same Account Name, "ssa". The Account Name field is not case sensitive.
a. Use the following criteria to determine the encryption password. If you are unable to determine the correct password for your encrypted CD, call the local ODAR office that sent you the CD for assistance. NOTE: The password will always be nine characters long.
Representatives and Claimants Password Criteria:
- First 4 letters of claimant's first name in lower case (if the name is less than four characters, use "#"s after the last alpha)
- A number sign (#)
- Last 4 numbers of the claimant's SSN
The CD will be labeled as follows:
- Claimant's full last name
- Claimant's first 4 numbers of the SSN
Claimant's name is Mickey Mays and SSN is 123-45-6789. The encryption password is mick#6789. Label on the CD is "Mays 1234".
Claimant's name is Tom Mays and SSN is 123-45-6789. The encryption password is tom##6789. Label on the CD is "Mays 1234".
Experts (medical and vocational) Password Criteria:
- First 4 of the expert's last name (lowercase). If the name is less than four characters, use "#"s after the last alpha.
- A number sign (#)
- First 4 numbers of the experts BPA
The CD will be labeled as follows:
- Experts full first name.
- Date of the hearing or "interrogatory".
Experts name is Sam Jones and the BPA number is 1234. The encryption password is jone#1234. Label on the CD is "Sam 080910" (date ofhearing is 8/9/10) or "Sam interrogatory",
5. To decrypt the contents of the CD, highlight the words "[Encrypted Device]" and click on the Extract button.
6. The Browse For Folder window will appear. The first time you decrypt a CD, highlight the drive where you want to save the file and click on [Make New Folder] button. NOTE: If a folder already exists, navigate to that location to download the file.
7. Change the folder name then highlight the new folder and click on the OK button.
8. Go to the folder created, or the location you extracted the files. Double-click on the index.html file
9. Close the Pointsec encryption window by clicking on the "x" in the upper right hand corner of the screen or by selecting File/Exit from the menu.
10. A deletion window will appear if files were extracted to your computer.
11. If you extracted files to your hard drive or server and DO NOT want the files deleted from your computer, select "No". By selecting "Cancel", you will return to the Pointsec encryption window.
1.0 Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if the account name and/or password entry is incorrect?
If incorrect information is entered in the Account name and/or Password fields, you will receive a Pointsec Media Encryption box, pop-up message say that says, "Your password or account name is wrong. Please try again."
Click the OK button on the screen to reenter the correct Account name and Password. If you continue to get this message, please contact the local ODAR office that sent you the CD.
What happens if the files are copied or viewed beforethey are un-encrypted?
If the files are copied or view straight from the CD without running the decryption process, they will be unreadable.
Once the contents ofthe folder is decrypted, can I simply view the files without copying or extracting them to my computer?
Yes, you can view the files individually from the Pointsec Media Encryption window without using the index.html to navigate to them. You will have to select each separate document in the "docs" folder. If you open the index.html from the Pointsec window, it may not display correctly.
To view the actual tiff images you will need to navigate to the "docs" folder and select the desired
Oct 10, 2010
Oct 9, 2010
Oct 8, 2010
A $100,000 bonus?A Forrest City attorney and an employee in his office have been indicted on federal Social Security fraud charges, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas said.
Barry Michael Easley, 62, and Marie Diane Douglas, 61, are both facing charges of aiding and abetting Social Security fraud and aiding and abetting theft of government property. Douglas is also charged with one count of making a false statement.
Douglas reportedly began working at Easley's law office in August 2002, a year after she began receiving Social Security disability payments that limited the amount of money she could earn.
According to the indictment, portions of Douglas' salary were paid to other individuals for her benefit to avoid going over and a $100,000 bonus paid to her was structured so it appeared to be a civil settlement.
Oct 7, 2010
I am not under the illusion that President Obama or anyone close to him is reading this blog. More likely, it is one or more people at the Office of Management and Budget or the President's domestic policy staff charged with Social Security matters.
Oct 6, 2010
The Social Security Administration has assigned four vendors specific jobs within a multibillion-dollar contract to support the agency's modernization program, rather than have the companies compete against each other for the work, agency officials said on Friday.
The decision differs from some procurement specialists' expectation that the agency would let the contract winners Lockheed Martin Corp., Accenture, Computer Sciences Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. bid on certain tasks to encourage competition. Instead, Social Security will reserve the right to replace one supplier with another, if any of the companies do not keep costs low or fail to complete work on time, officials said. ...
During the seven-year contract period, Lockheed will support software development. Accenture will concentrate on electronic health records and emerging technologies, possibly including voice recognition and data mining. CSC will help with application validation, software engineering and systems administration for the operating systems z/OS, Unix, Windows and IBM WebSphere. Northrop Grumman's assignments include application and business planning, as well as enterprise architecture, which is the practice of driving operational change by comparing how an agency functions today versus future performance expectations. ...
"There was intense competition among vendors for both receiving a contract award and for the technical areas," Social Security spokeswoman Kia Green said. "There will be competition in the form of proposals for any new technical areas, but, as of now, each vendor has been awarded specific technical areas and there is no competitive bidding for projects in a technical area."
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has selected four prime contractors under the Information Technology Support Services Contract (ITSSC) that will be used, in part, to acquire health information technology that works with electronic health record (EHR) systems to process applications for disability benefits.
The ITSSC includes a one-year base period plus six additional one-year options with an aggregate ceiling valued at $2.8 billion.
The four prime contractors under ITSSC are Accenture, Computer Sciences Corp., Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin.
While those companies could bid on various "tasks" that SSA might order, the agency has provided direction to each prime contractor about the type of work they'd most likely be expected to participate in, said Accenture managing director Steve Shane in an interview with InformationWeek.
"All four companies are prime contractors, but SSA has directed different paths" for each, he said.
For instance, Accenture's focus is on "emerging technologies," including projects involving analytics, mobile, and web portals, Shane said. Accenture will also focus on integrating data from EHRs into SSA systems to assist in disability and other entitlement program determinations, he said.
I have to ask the question: Are electronic records really worth this kind of money to Social Security?
Update: And by the way, Social Security should have put out its own press release on this. Accenture's press release was really misleading.
This news release is very misleading....Accenture got only a part of this potential contract and not the full potential amount.
It went to 4 vendors.....and the bulk of the money goes to Lockheed Martin....
Oct 5, 2010
From a press release:
The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) has selected Accenture (NYSE: ACN) as a prime contractor under the Information Technology Support Services Contract (ITSSC) that will be used to acquire a wide range of IT systems development and modernization services. The ITSSC includes a one-year base period plus six additional one-year options with an aggregate ceiling valued at $2.8 billion.
Under the contract, Accenture will implement emerging technology applications designed to improve SSA’s service delivery capabilities to current beneficiaries and future retirees. Task orders issued under the contract may request services such as evaluating ways to integrate data from health records more seamlessly, expanding Web and social media to enhance user accessibility, and applying predictive models and analytics capabilities to SSA’s business.
What would have happened without the media attention?
Former Alaskan beauty queen and Rhodes scholar, Rachel Yould, was sentenced to nearly five years in prison and ordered to pay more than $700,000 in restitution [in September] after pleading guilty in a peculiar case of fraud and double identities.
Federal prosecutors indicted the Oxford University Ph.D. candidate last December on felony charges of mail, wire fraud and making false statements to influence a bank. The 38-year-old Yould, born Rachel Hall, had claimed her father sexually abused and stalked her and allegedly took on a new identity under a Social Security Administration program that aims to help rape and domestic violence victims hide from their abusers.
There is a longer Jeffrey Toobin piece in the New Yorker on this peculiar story but you have to subscribe to read it.
She's definitely not my relative.
Oct 4, 2010
Electronic medical records may not be coming as fast as these two brothers had hoped or as fast as Social Security would like.