Mar 14, 2011

No Overtime At Payment Center

An e-mail I recently received:
Hello. I work for the Social Security Administration, Payment Center 7, in Baltimore, MD, as a Claims Authorizer (CA).

We handle the SSA disability case workload. One function of my job is to trigger ALJ [Administrative Law Judge] disability awards to payment, providing the non-medical requirements are met. We also do post adjudicative work, such as imposing and removing workers' compensation offset.

CA's have had overtime offered to us for years, both during the week and on the weekend. We need the overtime hours to keep up with our workloads.

Today, Friday the 11th, all the Modules in the Security West Building (PC7) had emergency meetings to announce that all overtime is cancelled indefinitely for all positions. This is apparently related to the budget situation and the continuing resolution.

Hopefully they will find a way to resolve this and restore overtime soon, at least on weekends. I fear that claimants will suffer if this situation is not resolved shortly.

The disability caseload keeps growing, and the cases and disabled claimants are not going to magically disappear, and it seems that some in Congress don't understand this. It is somewhat discouraging to think that someone who has waited for years to have an ALJ hear their case will now have to wait longer to have their award processed, even after the favorable ALJ decision is made.


Anonymous said...

I got an email from my management on Friday also, effective Monday morning, no comp or ot except for scheduled activities. Seemed to come out of no where, no explanation.

Thank you for posting the email as I hadn't even thought of that.

Now I understand.

Anonymous said...

Does payment center 7 ever adjust the onset date after a claim has been effectuated for 1-6 months or longer?

Anonymous said...

My component received notice Friday afternoon that COMP, OT and Credit were no longer allowed starting immediately; really going to hurt my ability to complete my work on time.

Anonymous said...

"We need the overtime hours to keep up with our workloads."

More like need OT to make that new car payment and take that vacation. LOL We had OT were I work, and the work load did not justify OT, but we still had it every weekend.

Next will awards be cut out? Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

As a long time Social Security employee, I believe that if congress truly wanted SSA to do the work, they would provide SSA with enough staff to do it. The idea that we can do more with less is ridiculous. Simplify the programs or hire more people to do the work. Relying on OT to be able to get work done (although I like the time and a half pay) is really a bad plan.
At least one commissioner agreed that if congress failed to fund the agency, the agency would not perform certain workloads, like SSI redets and CDR's. Costs the government much more in the long run.

Anonymous said...

Payment Center 7 does need the overtime for the claims processing positions, to keep up with workloads.
Barely keeping up as it is, even with overtime.

Either overtime or hire more people, but just doing away with OT and expecting the same amount of work to be done is absurd. Sure the OT money is nice, but the workers will get by without it. The people who suffer the most will be the claimants.

Anonymous said...

As a manager, I've never been a fan of using overtime willy-nilly as a panacea to reduce backlogs. It's justified in some cases, but I'm not sure that the work produced is worth the cost. Instead of making one employee do the work of two, it's better to hire and train another employee. But that's not the "SSA way."

Teapot said...

It seems to me that the presence of overtime, as argued for by the backlog, creates a culture in which it's not advantageous for people to actually do their work during the work week. After all, if the loads decrease, no premium pay. Since there's no standard or quota for work completion, it's easy to put off today what you can get paid a ton to do tomorrow.

With that said, I am a PC7 employee and I'm writing this during work hours -- wait! It's break time! How about that!

Anonymous said...

@Teapot: I'm 10:00 3/14. I don't think it's so much that, although I used to deny overtime to employees who weren't producing during the regular work week (which the union wasn't too happy about, but tough;). I've read a few studies showing that the average worker's productivity decreases in direct proporation to extra hours worked. So I questioned the wisdom of working an extra two hours after the end of a shift.

Saturdays may be another thing, but I think the thing to do is let the people who regularly produce have the first crack at OT. Again, the union hates this, but it's silly to pay someone time and a half if they can't or won't pull their fair share of work during the week. Just my .02.

Anonymous said...

I've been a CR for 20 years and *never* work paid OT but work lots of comp and credit hours simply because all I can do from 9-4 (when the office is open to the public) is answer the phone and interview. If I want to actually PROCESS any of my work I have to do it when the office is closed, and if I only worked 1 1/2 hours (to make an 8 hour day) I'd never get it done. We're basically forced to stay late because you can only get things done when the office is closed. CRs who can't do this (mostly the moms with kids) really suffer, because they never catch up.

And to the previous poster....if you have employees that you don't want working on Saturday because they "can't" do their fair share during the week, WHY DON'T YOU DO SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR POOR PERFORMERS??? Keeping people like this on staff demoralizes your high performing employees.

Anonymous said...

With all respect, 5:30 3/14, getting rid of the poor performers isn't exactly child's play, but as a matter of fact, I have removed one employee and downgraded two others. It can be a full time job, especially for the first line OS.

We had a lot more leeway under FCIP, which gave management two years to terminate an employee if he/she was unable to perform, with minimal paperwork. Now that FCIP is history, they'll have to jump on these cases right out of training--or the agency (and you) are pretty much stuck with them.

And rest assured, as a 20 year CR myself, I was frustrated at the poor performers as well.

Anonymous said...

Teopot, I'll bet there are very few employees who slow down their work to create the need for overtime. The workloads are growing due to more retired and disabled people (baby boom generation) and that is going to create the need for OT.

Whether Congress wants to pay for it or not, many of these SSA jobs require a high level of intelligence and skill, and merit the salaries we receive.

Now as for overtime not being productive, I will agree that people don't get as much done during the week after working 8 hours.

But I maintain it is more cost efficient to have your skilled, experienced workers putting in overtime hours on Saturdays, rather than hiring a new worker, training him or her, and the government having to pay his retirement and health insurance costs too.
The workers who are working overtime are already covered for health insurance, etc.

Anonymous said...

Baltimore Sun - Letter to Editor - March 6, 2011 - Social Security Employees Deserve a Pay Cut

Social Security employees deserve a pay cut or two
March 06, 2011
I am not surprised that so many Social Security employees have spoken out against the possibility of budget cuts and/or furloughs ("Workers at Social Security protest proposed budget cuts," March 3). As a former SSA employee, I understand why they are so defensive when it comes to their jobs. Many of them are getting paid twice what they would be worth in the private sector, and they usually cannot be fired once permanent.
It is not uncommon to see employees taking lunches lasting up to two hours. Often, a day at the office is nothing more than seeing people sleep at their desks or watch movies on their computers. With a few exceptions, employees with goals and expectations of some sort are nowhere to be found inside the walls of SSA.
I once saw an older employee take 10 smoke breaks in one afternoon and do absolutely no work when he was at his desk. He told me he was just waiting it out until he could get more retirement money. Several elderly individuals literally died right at their desks because they refused to retire. A lack of professionalism was obvious in the way the employees dressed and most apparently in their juvenile, non-professional language.

So, let's recap. Very overpaid. Total job security. No expectations at a job where you can basically do nothing.
The reason I left SSA is because I saw a bunch of lazy employees milking the system and did not want any part in it. I am sorry to say it is time for the foolishness to come to an end. Sorry SSA employees: Party's over. Our tax dollars cannot afford it anymore.
Gregory Prush, Pikesville

Anonymous said...

"Many of them are getting paid twice what they would be worth in the private sector"

I have been stating this all along as it relates to alj's and ssa's attornies. $100,000+ annual salaries is too much money for these ssa folks.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how long Mr. Prush worked at SSA and what the circumstances were regarding his separation. I also wonder if he was union or management. I also question whether or not he might have a "sour" personality. Lastly, I wonder if his "experience" was at Baltimore HQ because that is the promised land and there are considerable issues of "poor" performance because there is no front line work and hence no direct responsibility to the taxpayers/claimants. Out in the field, you have to get your work done because you will have a manager, a claimant, a rep or a congressional harping on you. Your numbers are being watched by some Baltimoron and you will get nasty messages to move your cases. But the Baltimoron's themselves, they don't process any real workload.

Anonymous said...

I would love to know where Mr. Prush worked! I have never commented before, but could not let his remarks go unanswered. I am a PC SSA employee with over 40 years experience and I currently hold a "team leader" position. In addition to that, I process first line appeals (reconsideration requests). During the week, I have to train, serve as a mentor, answer questions form all components, do special studies, review and comment on new procedures, prepare for and hold meetings, write meeting notes and training aids, and, oh yeah, process my case load. Every day is a barrage of trying to meet "goals",perform the above tasks, and "work in" the incessant Congressional inquiries and public relations problem cases received from field offices. (Also did I mention we have not been fully staffed with people trained to do the full range of the job for years?) OT was reserved for processing only the oldest reconsideration cases which generally are the most difficult and time-consuming. Being able to work on such cases in total uninterrupted silence was a blessing (not to mention simply the extra time) and will be sorely missed and unfortunately have an adverse affect on the amount and age of pending backlogs. (PS I am writing this message from my home computer before work.)

Anonymous said...

"With all respect, 5:30 3/14, getting rid of the poor performers isn't exactly child's play, but as a matter of fact"

Little off the topic, but my manager chewed my butt for going behind others and correcting their mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous SSA person, who is the debit company in Virginia that the SSA is contracting? Please help, they deleted my SSR and BMR record in order to impose a cross over on me. I know how to read MADCAP and ROAR reports, and saw how they have done it. These means, if they did this to me, they have done it to thousands. After I discover who they are I will get enough people to begin a class act suit. I know the SSA techs in the processing center did not do it since MADCAP an ROAR techinitions are separate, please help.

Anonymous said...

when my wife lost ssdi it didn't take the payment center to stop her payment now she wone here apeal and havent been paid in three months still waiting

Anonymous said...

Same SSDI benefits were wrongly "suspended" due to SS having incorrect work earnings. Once I was able to prove this they say my benefits will be reinstated. Problem is the PAYMENT CENTER has had my file for over 2 months, nothing has been done.I am owed 3 months of benefits for myself & my children. I have no other income, my bills are pilling up, my medicare & part D coverage is getting ready to be canceled and I'm going to lose everything. No one can do anything all I'm told is the payment center has my file and needs to process the reinstatement and pay back benefits sorry nothing we can do. I can't believe this is legal. If someone would actually take my file, sit down and do it, it would probably take 15 minutes. But instead my file sits day in and day out untouched and because of this I'm losing everything my vehicle, my home, my medical insurance which I desperately need. It took one second to wrongly "suspend" my benefits. But now over 2 months and still waiting to have them reinstated. Something needs to be done about this system. Something is seriously wrong here. I'm thinking of calling my local new channel to have them run my story. I have read of many others in my exact position. Yet the payment center doesn't have to answer to anyone as to why people's lives can be destroyed and meanwhile nothing is being done to help. Like I said it would take probably 15 minutes to reinstate and pay benefits if someone would sit down and do it.But nope. Everyday I wait to see my benefits still turned off and everyday I lose something else due to not having any money to pay my debts. I have 3 small children that need food to eat as well but that matters to no one. It's sad. My life is being ruined by this and no one can do anything to get my file processed by the payment center.

Anonymous said...

Dose not matter it ain't like they do anything anyway I been trying to get my kids on my disability over a year now all they tell me is its in the processing center and it been over a year since they have had it so you know there sleeping at work

Anonymous said...

You all do nothing now how would a longer day help longer nap

Trevor H said...

Lol I got my first monthly ssdi check March 23 2016...we had to go back and do an app for my kids on March 31 and they told my ex she would get child's 1st check April 27 (when I get my 2nd check)...I betcha she gets child's back pay before I get mine...I was approved Feb 5

Anonymous said...

Well in my experience no one else WORKS but a few! They know that they don't have to work