Jan 2, 2012

The Truth

     "We can no longer do more with less. We will do less with less ..." 
     --Carolyn Colvin, Social Security's Deputy Commissioner, speaking to the National Council of Social Security Management Associations (NCSSMA)

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I personally wish SSA would terminate their ALJ employees and replaced them with cheaper adjudicators similar to those at the DDS units. That would be a more fiscally RESPONSIBLE position.

Signed,

the disabled

Anonymous said...

Yes, SSA and ODAR can not keep on doing things the same way as in the past with increasingly limited resources (dollars and people).

Anonymous said...

At last someone acknowledges the reality faced by SSA. Now real decisions have to made as to what SSA should do less of.

From a Field Office perspective lets start with simplifying SSI. The first items to go should be dedicated accounts and installment payments. Less government regulation should also be considered for the most needy as well as the large corporations.

Anonymous said...

This could and should have been stated ten, even fifteen years ago. There are a ton of unnecessary workloads that should be 86'd. Payee monitoring, low-error redets, outreach, PR, etc., etc.

Anonymous said...

I think "Signed the Disabled" is a troll. No claimant would want hearing level adjudications shifted to DDS or contract adjudicators because the favorable decision rate would be about 10 percent at the hearing level. Perhaps the post would have been more accurately signed "I have a personal stake in [my State] DDS and would like to have the funds that now go to ODAR."

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately doing less with less will not translate well, if at all, to field offices. Higher management—ADs and higher—will continue to push for faster and faster retirement claims processing, more Part D outreach efforts and horse race type competitions to see which office completes an unimportant workload (centenarians) first. Meanwhile there will be public relations inspired reductions in redeterminations and medical CDRs. Anyone want to guess how many millions in overpayments during the past decade because SSA refused to allow its field offices to complete as many redets as possible?

Some immediate possibilities could include:

--closing field offices at least one full day each week so employees could work on backlogs.

--reduce the pressure on TSC representatives to answer a fixed number of calls per hour. Too often the TSRs just “punt” to field offices instead of solving a caller's problem. Also, allow TSRs to handle more complex workloads.

--place a moratorium on all field office public relations activities. No one has time to spend half a day at a job fair when the agency is not hiring. (Please no B.S. From another poster about building up a file of potential recruits—they will be gone when/if hiring ever resumes.

I am sure any smart field office employee could think of a dozen more non-critical activities that SSA could forego.

Legislatively SSA could push for real SSI simplification, modernization of some benefit types (does anyone support child benefits for an in-vitro birth 3-5 years after the WE died?) and elimination of the most error-prone T2 benefit computations, such as combined family maximums.

Anonymous said...

"No claimant would"

You are right. But i'm a beneficiary now. And $160,000 dollars for an alj salary is outrageous when a much cheaper and reliable adjudicator could be found,provided substantial evidence supported their decision.

Signed,

the disabled

Anonymous said...

Re 5:28 pm: "....the most error-prone T2 benefit computations, such as..." How about workers compensation offset? Not only error-prone, but labor- intensive: perpetual development/recontact until age 65, multi-faceted ongoing targeted reviews (WCQT, WCSP, WCPE), constant retraining/"referesher", and generator of a significant amount of reconsideration requests.

Anonymous said...

Amen to workers comp. There's only about 100 people in the agency that can come close to doing workers comp correctly

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:34 You don't say if you were approved by the DDS or an ALJ. If you were found disabled at the hearing level, you should be kissing the ground of the ALJ corps who routinely reverse 2 out of 3 DDS denials. Without that level of adjudication and "judicial discretion", the rank and file, lower paid adjudicator would still deny more claims than they approve. Absolutely would, in the short run, save taxpayer dollars because less claimants would turn into beneficiaries. But maybe that's okay with you because you got yours.

Anonymous said...

I am going to print that section of the newsletter and post it in my cubicle so when my OS asks me to "cold call" elderly T2 receipients (who have never expressed any interest in filing for SSI) to try to convince them to file for SSI (so the office can get more claims i.e. denials), I can quote the deputy commissioner.

Anonymous said...

Make the following changes:

1.) Government Pension Offset is now treated the same as the Windfall Elimination Provision; only the initial pension amount affects a spouse's/widow's benefit and further development is no longer necessary. Annual contact will be made until the pension is elected, though.

2.) Workers' compensation offset now only applies the first 10 years a claimant receives disability benefits or ends at age 62, whichever occurs first.

3.) Continued revisions of notices. If people have to keep calling because they cannot tell when we are stopping their checks or reducing it, they clearly do not meet the 'plain language' writing requirement.

If they were willing to do away with questionable retirement situations, nothing is off limits.

Anonymous said...

To 8:23 am--Yowza! Although #1 and #2 would require changes in the actual law, right? BTW re #3, I process recon requests in the PC-----it is way beyond "plain language" deficiency. We have to look at the notice of "initial determination" when preparing a reconsideration determination. There are no words sufficient to convey the depths of badness of our notices. Syntax and grammar are foreign concepts. Not to mention egregious typos and inconsistent data within the same notice, sometimes within the same paragraph........

No Saj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
No Saj said...

You left out the full paragraph:
"We can no longer do more with less. We will do less with less but accuracy must remain strong." This was met with rousing applause. [emphasis added]

Also, you left out the analysis:
The people in this meeting - area directors, regional commissioners, etc. - don't do a whole lot other than go to meetings like this.

Anonymous said...

It is certainly true that you reach a point where you begin to do less with less. But at the same time SSA could try to reallocate some of its declining resources and concentrate in areas that could help reduce critical workloads. For example, reassign people from less critical staff positions to positions such as ALJ decision-writing.

Anonymous said...

The full quote further documents how far removed from reality the leadership in SSA remains. Accuracy has been abysmal at SSA for decades just review the OIG/GAO reports on windfall offset,wep-gpo and workers comp offset.