DOMA Ruled Unconstitutional
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Your source for news affecting the U.S. Social Security Administration Copyright Charles T. Hall
This emergency message informs you of the termination of the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) program effective June 30, 2012 and the Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) program effective September 29, 2012. Established under Sections 1149 and 1150 of the Social Security Act of 1999, these programs are terminating because our authority to fund them has expired.But defunding these programs makes sense, since they're not working.
During the afternoon, the Board met with representatives from both SSA [Social Security Administration] and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) regarding their collaboration ...
CAT appears to be a type of test that might have some usefulness in evaluating potential employees or students but I have a hard time imagining that they would be of any use in disability determination.They tell you nothing about a person's physical abilities. In terms of mental ability, they wouldn't, for instance, tell you whether a claimant suffers from hallucinations or delusions or panic attacks. One might think of them as an alternative to IQ testing but unless you plan to dramatically increase the number of people found disabled, CAT would be useless because anyone close to being found disabled by Social Security due to mental retardation is functionally illiterate and incapable of using a computer for anything like this.
The SSA-NIH presentation highlighted two projects: 1) CAL 1 – an analytic project where NIH researchers developed a systematic approach to select conditions for inclusion in SSA’s Compassionate Allowance (CAL) list; and 2) Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) tools – instruments that will help SSA to measure individual function comprehensively, consistently, and quickly. ... The goal of the CAT tool is the systematic collection of information regarding a claimant’s functioning which can then be scored as part of the determination process.
Late last week, the ACLU joined a letter to the Social Security Administration (SSA) drafted by our coalition partners at the National Center for Transgender Equality. The letter expresses a shared concern over a lack of action from SSA on several policy matters of critical importance to transgender people and their families.
The three areas addressed in the letter include the need for an updated policy for changing gender information in SSA records; revising guidance regarding marriages involving a transgender spouse to accurately reflect state and federal law; and phasing out the use of gender data in SSA computer matching programs.
Your little flyer entitled “Bowles! Simpson! Stop using the deficit as a phony excuse to gut our Social Security!” is one of the phoniest excuses for a “flyer” I have ever seen. You use the faces of young people, who are the ones who are going to get gutted while you continue to push out your blather and drivel. My suggestion to you — an honest one — read the damn report. The Moment of Truth — 67 pages, and then tell me if we’re not doing the right thing with Social Security. What a wretched group of seniors you must be to use the faces of the very people that we are trying to save, while the “greedy geezers” like you use them as a tool and a front for your nefarious bunch of crap. You must feel some sense of shame for shoveling out this bulls**t.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently announced that 10-point preference eligible veterans [those with service connected disabilities] interested in becoming an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and working for Social Security can take the examination now even though the test is closed to all other applicants. More information about this opportunity is available at www.fedshirevets.gov. ...
So far this fiscal year, the agency has hired 210 veterans, including 91 disabled veterans, representing 34% of total new agency hires. Most of these veterans handle benefit claims and help reduce Social Security’s backlog of disability cases. Overall, veterans represent almost 10% of Social Security’s current workforce.
Federal officials overseeing a fast-growing $10 billion children’s disability program have failed to follow up on the progress of 400,000 beneficiaries with behavioral, learning, and mental disorders, allowing families to receive monthly cash benefits for years even if their children’s condition has improved, according to a draft report from the Government Accountability Office obtained by the Globe.
And why is Social Security not doing these reviews? Because they don't have enough operating funds, that's why.The report by the investigative branch of Congress estimated that the Social Security Administration, which runs the Supplemental Security Income program, might save $9 for every $1 it spends on disability reviews by determining that some children no longer qualify. Reviews are typically required once every three years for the 1.3 million children now receiving benefits, a record high.
In response to a question from Senator Thune (R-SD) regarding the December 2011 Wall Street Journal article re withholding evidence, the Commissioner responded:Commissioner Astrue: Senator, I'm afraid I am going to have to disagree with a number of the assumptions of your question. First of all, I am familiar with the Wall Street Journal article. We did not take no action - we did refer that to the Office of the Inspector General. If you have questions about the progress of that, I would encourage you to talk to the Inspector General.But that article was relatively thin in terms of the content of allegations. There really was not, in my opinion, very much there. It's also based in part on the misassumption that there's a requirement for all relevant evidence to be provided to the judge. Right now, that is not the law. The previous two Commissioners tried to make that the law and my understanding is that they received a lot of opposition and not much support here in the Congress for that.First of all, the Wall Street Journal had it dead wrong on what the law is. And second, there wasn't much in the way of allegations. Third, it would be unprecedented to go back and review all cases by a law firm on evidence anywhere near this thin. If you had proof of real fraud, and I have no information from the Inspector General that suggests that we have that, then it would be totally unprecedented to do that. Any court that would look at that would throw it out. It would be an enormous waste of the taxpayers' dollars for me to do that.Sen. Thune asked the Commissioner whether he could summarize the Inspector General's findings. He responded that there is no report yet and he testified:Commissioner Astrue: I don't have much more than that. But certainly, my expectation ... Again, Senator, read that Wall Street Journal article very carefully. When you realize, first ofall, that there is not a legal obligation to present every bit of evidence to the Agency because our rules are not written that way, there is a factual error underlying that whole article. Past that, there is not very much very specific in terms of evidence: there is unsupported hearsay, that type ... It may be true. But in order for us to take action, we've got to have some proof and evidence. The Wall Street Joumal article did not provide very much for the Inspector General to go on.
Governor Mitt Romney’s proposals to cap total federal spending, boost defense spending, cut taxes, and balance the budget would require extraordinarily large cuts in other programs, both entitlements and discretionary programs, according to our revised analysis based on new information and updated projections.
For the most part, Governor Romney has not outlined cuts in specific programs. But if policymakers exempted Social Security from the cuts, as Romney has suggested, and cut Medicare, Medicaid, and all other entitlement and discretionary programs by the same percentage — to meet Romney’s spending cap, defense spending target, and balanced budget requirement — then non-defense programs other than Social Security would have to be cut 29 percent in 2016 and 59 percent in 2022...
The cuts that would be required under the Romney budget proposals in programs such as veterans’ disability compensation, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for poor elderly and disabled individuals, SNAP (formerly food stamps), and child nutrition programs would move millions of households below the poverty line or drive them deeper into poverty. ...
Labels: Retirement Policy
Because the Third Circuit held that posthumously conceived children qualify for survivors benefits as a matter of federal law, it did not definitively determine “where [Robert] Capato was domiciled at his death or . . . delve into the law of intestacy of that state.” 631 F. 3d, at 632, n. 6. These issues, if preserved, may be considered on remand.
Notice of Funding OpportunityNCD-02-12NCD seeks an individual or entity to undertake a project to analyze the various options for SSDI [Social Security Disability Insurance] and SSI [Supplemental Security Income] reform, including what measures could facilitate people currently receiving SSDI and SSI benefits in being able to work, what measures could decrease the likelihood of needing such benefits, and what financing options exist to extend the life of both programs. ...
Suggested Framework for ResearchThe National Council on Disability is interested in answering the following questions:
- What would a fundamental restructuring of the SSI and SSDI system require to align it with the goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act, i.e. eliminate the requirement that an SSDI applicant declare themselves unable to work in order to be eligible for benefits; provide job retention supports to working people with disabilities who are at risk of job loss as a result of their disability; assist people with disabilities who are at risk of job loss because they are not receiving reasonable accommodations.
- Given the extremely diverse populations served by the SSI and SSDI programs, how might different reform strategies disproportionately impact – either positively or negatively – particular segments of the disability community?
- Based on the most current evidence-based research, does the Medicaid buy-in opportunity impact work activity? How should it be modified to promote work opportunities for people with disabilities?
- To what extent has the Ticket-to-Work initiative been evaluated? What lessons can be drawn from the challenges the Ticket to Work program has faced in realizing its intended goals? If sufficient information is available to make a determination, what reforms to the Ticket to Work program are recommended?
- Did the research reveal any changes to other federal programs that would have a positive impact on the health and effectiveness of the Social Security Programs and work opportunities for SSDI and SSI beneficiaries?
- Could an incentive mechanism be used to encourage employers to make more efforts to accommodate employees with disabilities and to avoid employees with disabilities going on to SSDI rolls, e.g. an experience rating system whereby employers, whose employees have a lower rate of SSDI retirements, pay lower SSDI payroll taxes?
- Could an incentive mechanism be developed to encourage states to supplement the SSI program with state funds?
- Could an incentive mechanism be used to encourage more employers to offer private disability insurance policies that would supplement the SSDI program?
- Are there other changes to the SSDI or SSI programs that would promote work activity, preserve benefits for those who need them, and secure the fiscal integrity of these programs?
People who feign disabilities in Utah can get away with millions of dollars – money you pay into social security and money employers pay to cover accidents on the job. ...
Workers compensation is a private insurer that began as a state agency. On the federal level, the Social Security Administration provides disability benefits.
It has a "Cooperative Disability Investigation Unit" - operating in Salt Lake for roughly a year – which tries to stop fraud before it starts.
In a recent 3 month period, the local CDI unit, as it's called, says it confirmed 42 cases of fraud or "similar fault."
Labels: Crime Beat
Currently, the process for obtaining SSI [Supplemental Security Income] and SSDI [Social Security Disability Insurance] can be cumbersome and, too often, there are unnecessary delays. Allowing nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and licensed clinical social workers to provide diagnostic evidence of certain medical conditions would streamline the process for obtaining benefits, ensuring that eligible individuals gain access to these critical benefits in a timely manner.
For individuals who are homeless, such expansion would have an especially meaningful impact. Currently, many people who are homeless and who are generally uninsured have great difficulty accessing assessment, treatment, and care from physicians and, for mental health problems, psychologists and psychiatrists. Programs and services dedicated to serving homeless people are increasingly overwhelmed by the tremendous need for treatment and services, and many programs cannot meet this rising demand.This will only get poor people so far. There's no way you can get around it. Decision-makers aren't going to give as much weight to CNAs, PAs and LCSWs as to MDs.
Labels: Health Care and Social Security
... [I]n FY [Fiscal Year] 2011 [which ended September 30, 2010], while we received unprecedented new workloads, Congress cut our budget more deeply than in any year of the previous two decades. Congress also rescinded a sizable portion of our IT [Information Technology] carryover funding, which is our best mechanism for improving productivity. With staff reductions caused by hiring freezes and attrition, our work force is contracting rapidly, field offices are consolidating, and we are struggling to maintain recent levels of service. When I leave office in 2013, the agency will have about the same number of employees that we had when I arrived in 2007, even though our workloads have increased dramatically. Since FY 2007, retirement and survivor claims have increased by 26 percent and disability claims have increased by over 31 percent. ...
Let me be clear that our ALJs’ [Administrative Law Judges'] improved productivity has not resulted in more allowances. Our ALJs are not meeting our productivity goals by “paying down the backlog,” as has sometimes been alleged. In fact, our hearing level allowance rate dropped over 4 percentage points this past year. ...
The sheer volume of work our employees handle is incredible. For instance, in FY 2011, more than 45 million people visited our field offices across the Nation. Despite the high volume of visitors, we reduced wait times in our field offices by more than 9 percent from FY 2010. [Notice that he's talking about last fiscal year. The numbers this fiscal year probably aren't as good]...
Last year, callers to our 800 Number had the shortest wait time and lowest busy signal rates ever. We reduced the time spent waiting for an agent by 45 percent, from 326 seconds in FY 2008 to 180 seconds in FY 2011. [But again he's talking about last year. Things aren't going so well this year as we'll see below.] We cut our busy rate by over 70 percent since FY 2008. We attribute much of our improved performance to hiring additional teleservice representatives in FY 2009 and FY 2010, along with several technological advancements to make our 800-number more efficient. ...
Regardless of our technology improvements, under current funding we project that our 800-number service will deteriorate significantly because we will not have a sufficient number of people to answer calls. We expect that busy signals will rise from 3 percent in FY 2011 to 6 percent in FY 2012. Our average speed of answer will increase from 180 seconds in FY 2011 to 285 seconds in FY 2012.
Overall service also will deteriorate in our field offices and processing centers because staffing losses do not happen evenly across the country. This year alone, nearly one-third of our field offices have experience more than 10 percent attrition, and 15 offices have lost over 30 percent of their staff.
[Swank] has one of the highest denial rates in the country. Swank rejects nearly eight of every 10 claims for disability benefits, according to a computer analysis of his rulings.
Attorneys and claimants who’ve had cases before Swank say he is unfair....
“All I’ve ever wanted is for him to do this right,” said Bruce Billman, a Richmond-area attorney who represents people seeking assistance under the Social Security Disability Insurance program.
“If he wants to turn people down, at least do it on the proper evidence, using the proper witnesses, and give us a chance.”
Billman is a former president of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives. He has filed several complaints with the Social Security Administration, accusing Swank of failing to provide due process. ...
It’s not just statistics that have raised concerns among parties who’ve gone before Swank.
Attorneys and claimants accuse Swank of disregarding or excluding the findings of their physicians and vocational experts. ...
Billman, who has practiced disability law for more than 30 years, has filed more than 400 pages of complaints against Swank with the Social Security Administration’s chief administrative law judge in Falls Church. The documents describe what Billman sees as numerous instances of unfairness toward his clients.
However, no action has been taken against Swank.
“He is untouchable,” Billman said. “And every time you file a complaint and nothing gets done, it just reinforces that with him. There’s no system in place to protect you from somebody like this.”
Billman said he complained about Swank in 2008. Until that point, the judge had denied about half of his cases, Billman said. Since the complaint, he said, Swank has denied about 90 percent of his cases. ...
Over several weeks while researching this article, the reporters asked to interview Swank and emailed him questions. Swank said that he wants to defend his record but that he has not received permission from the Social Security Administration to talk to the media.
“The policy originates with the chief judge’s office in Fairfax, VA,” Swank wrote in an email.Interestingly, Swank has an article forthcoming in another law journal whose title strongly suggests that he believes that Social Security has a lax approach to misconduct by those who represent Social Security claimants. People who live in glass houses ...
Labels: International Social Security
Peter Peterson, a Wall Street billionaire who has been calling for cuts to Social Security and other government programs for years, is hosting a "fiscal summit" Tuesday that brings together Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, former President Bill Clinton, Rep. Paul Ryan, House Speaker John Boehner, Tom Brokaw and Politico's John Harris, among a host of other elites ...
The bipartisan luminaries will be carrying on a discussion to a large extent framed by Peterson, who has spent lavishly to shape a national conversation focusing on the deficit rather than on jobs and economic growth. ...
According to a review of tax documents from 2007 through 2011, Peterson has personally contributed at least $458 million to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation to cast Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and government spending as in a state of crisis, in desperate need of dramatic cuts. Peterson's millions have done next to nothing to change public opinion: In survey after survey, Americans reject the idea of cutting Social Security and Medicare. ...
But Peterson has been able to drive a major shift in elite consensus about government spending, with talk of "grand bargains" that would slash entitlements, cut corporate tax rates and end personal tax breaks, such as the mortgage deduction, that benefit the middle class.
To put Peterson's spending in context, all corporations and unions combined spent less than $4 billion on lobbying in 2011. ...
Peterson has been pushing his fiscal arguments by spreading that half-billion dollars widely across the Washington spectrum, putting both Democrats and Republicans on his payroll. ...
I am responding to your request on behalf of your client, _____, for the name of the assigned Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) currently scheduled to conduct his hearing.
I am withholding the name of the ALJ assigned to hear this case under FOIA Exemption 2 (5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(2)). This exemption protects from disclosure records "related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency." The information you seek is the internal personnel assignment of an agency employee to a particular case. Therefore, you are not entitled to it under FOIA.
I am also withholding the ALJ's name under FOIA Exemption 7(E) (5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7)(E)). Exemption 7(E) exempts from mandatory disclosure records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes when production of such records "would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law." Information may fall within this exemption even if it was originally compiled for non-law enforcement purposes, if it is later related to crime prevention or security measures. Milner v. Department ofNavy, 131 S. Ct. 1259, 1272-73 (2011) (Alito, J., concurring).
Elvis returned to the list [of most popular baby names] at No. 904, after dropping off for a year. When Elvis dropped off the in 2010, it ended a run that had started in 1955.
[Social Security Commissioner Michael] Astrue, a big Elvis fan, said he was all shook up when Elvis left the list.
"Congress may not listen to me," Astrue said. "But God bless the American people for listening to me last year when I raised concerns about Elvis dropping off."
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has undertaken numerous modernization efforts, but it lacks effective measurement tools to determine progress. Since 2001, SSA has reported spending about $5 billion on the modernization of its systems. Specifically, the agency has undertaken hundreds of modernization projects each year from 2001 to 2011, and officials identified 120 such initiatives that they considered to be key investments in modernization. ... While the Office of Management and Budget requires agencies to establish performance measures to gauge modernization progress, SSA has not fully established quantifiable performance measures for all its modernization projects or performed post-implementation reviews, which GAO has previously recommended and which would enable the agency to effectively measure its progress....
SSA lacks updated and comprehensive plans to guide its modernization efforts. Strategic planning is essential for an organization to define what it seeks to accomplish, identify strategies to achieve the desired results, and measure progress. ...Let someone who is fairly removed from this issue give a few guesses as to why Social Security's systems modernization efforts may not meet GAO's criteria:
Labels: Congressional Hearings
One fundamental core value and belief underlies our comments today: All people of working age with disabilities can work if they have access to appropriate education, training, and vital supports such as technology assistance, transportation, and personal assistance services.
Labels: Office Closures
The Social Security Administration last month told its disability-claims judges they are no longer to seek out information from websites when deciding cases — taking away a tool some of those judges say would help in uncovering fraud. ...
Social Security’s ban covers all Internet sites, including social media such as Facebook.The problem with Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) searching social media sites for information on a claimant is what lawyers call ex parte evidence, that is evidence that the ALJ receives without the claimant's knowledge. Deciding a case on ex parte evidence is a serious matter. It goes beyond simply making a mistake. It's a denial of due process. Of course, it would be possible to see something online, send the claimant and his or her attorney a copy of what you saw and allow them to respond, which makes it acceptable but it's way to easy to forget to give the claimant a chance to respond. The problem with banning this is that it may just drive it underground.
But Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican and a top taxpayer watchdog, said avoiding the Internet means giving up a valuable anti-fraud weapon — one that he said even federal courts have relied upon in some disability cases.
“If an individual claims to be disabled, and then publicly posts a picture participating in a sport or physical activity on a social media website, such information should be used by [adjudicators] to determine if the claimant was truly disabled,” Mr. Coburn wrote in a letter last week to Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue.
NOSSCR Executive Director Nancy Shor discussed the increase in disability applications. They were to due to (1) increased coverage by, e.g., school teachers, (2) more women with insured status, (3) increased retirement age, (4) Baby Boomers, (5) weak economy, (6) decline in health insurance coverage, and (7) LTD [Long Term Disability] and state plans that require applying for disability benefits.
She presented the data SSA Chief Actuary Steve Goss presented to the National Academy of Social Insurance on "Why Are More People Claiming Disability Insurance and What Should Be Done About It?"
She and others from NOSSCR met with Commissioner Astrue recently regarding the new policy of withholding the identity of an ALJ [Administrative Law Judge] until the day of a hearing. Ms. Shor reported that the Commissioner would not change the policy. He considered the policy important. Ms. Shor communicated to the Commissioner objections to the policy nonetheless. Among other things, the Commissioner stated that if representatives forum shopped to avoid low-allowance-rate ALJs, then unrepresented claimants might disproportionately have their claims adjudicated by such ALJs. Ms. Shor communicated that the Agency should punish a representative who did something improper instead of relying on the name-removal policy. Ms. Shor stated that NOSSCR was addressing name-removal policy on Capital Hill. Ms. Shor mentioned that attorney David Camp was seeking to obtain the name of an ALJ revealed via the Freedom of Information Act.
Apart from the meeting with the Commissioner, Ms. Shor stated that NOSSCR is implementing a campaign to inform the public about the disability programs. The membership will receive an opt-in/opt-out choice with respect to receiving information about the campaign.
Ms. Shor explained that the media had turned “180 degrees” in three years, from seeking evidence about individual claimants adversely affected by the hearing backlog to investigating purported waste and fraud.
Ms. Shor stated that, by report, new ALJs were being trained that their role is “policy compliance” and that might account for the allowance rates of some new ALJs.
Ms. Shor explained that the worst case scenario for the disability trust fund is payment of eighty-six percent of benefits.
NOSSCR Staff Attorney Barbara Silverstone addressed new electronic filing requirements. She stated that even if a representative did not file electronically a reconsideration or rehearing request, that a fee would still be withheld. She explained that if the screen shows “System Limitations” upon attempted filing of a reconsideration or hearing request, that means that a paper request must be filed. The representative did nothing wrong. For example, if the prior determination on was partially favorable, a paper reconsideration or hearing request must be filed. For example, for determinations made prior to 2010 for which SSR [Social Security Ruling] 91-5p issues are relevant, a paper reconsideration or hearing request must be filed.
Ms. Silverstone noted that a representative may not click the button to submit an application online. The claimant must click the button. It is a violation of the standards of conduct to click the button for the claimant.
SSA OGC [Office of General Counsel] will investigate “egregious trends” by a representative not to file electronically. If a representative does not file electronically once or twice, that is not a problem. It is a violation of the standards of conduct not to file electronically when required to do so.
Ms. Silverstone noted several best practices suggested by SSA.
- When faxing documents, include a cover page with the claimant’s name and SSN [Social Security Number] and the number of pages of the document. Each page of the document should have the claimant’s SSN and the page number and page range, e.g., “page 2 of 4
- Do not submit both electronic and duplicate paper documents.
- The SSA-3441 [an appeal form] should be filed with the appeal document. SSA [Social Security Administration] wants a representative to explain the appeal in the SSA-3441. The 250-character limit in the appeal document itself is thus not a problem.
NOSSCR Government Affairs Director Ethel Zelenske summarized information that will appear in the April 2012 NOSSCR Forum.
- Appeals Council Ombudsperson T. Jensen’s “new” fax number is (703) 605-8691.
- Status inquires at the Appeals Council should not be made to the Branch handling the request for review, but to the Congressional and Public Affairs. (877) 670-2722. That entity will hire more staff. The Branch personnel are being reassigned to other duties.
- Do not use hearing-level bar codes at the Appeals Council. Bar codes will automatically be sent with any request for an extension of time that is made with the request for review itself. The Appeals Council will automatically grant an extension of time made with the request for review.
- The recording of the hearing will be available via ERE [Electronic Records Express] at the close of 2012.
- There is an e-mail contact for court remands more than six months old. (See April 2012 Forum.)
- Status reports are not available at the Appeals Council, but they might be in the future.
Prof. Harold Krent spoke about his investigation for the ACUS [Administrative Conference of the United States], but not on behalf of the ACUS. The ACUS has not deliberated. The goal was for ACUS deliberations before the end of the calendar year. But that may not be possible. Krent stated that would have a draft in the late summer. His report will be sent to the ACUS and SSA. Then the ACUS will deliberate.
His investigation focuses on understanding inconsistencies in ALJ [Administrative Law Judge] adjudication, the character of ALJ hearings, and judicial review. He will not address State-agency adjudication or the Medical-Vocational Guidelines.
Prof. Krent will investigate whether various factors impact ALJ allowance rates: the pool of claims from the State agencies, the underlying health and poverty of the region, a “small town” bias, the elimination of reconsideration, etc. The statistical analysis is “very difficult.” The differential allowance rates on their face do not tell the “whole story.”
Prof. Krent stated that the Agency has not studied the differential allowance rates for VTC [Video Tele-Conference] and in-person hearings, if any. The significance of VTC hearings for the correctness of adjudication is unknown. Prof. Krent stated that there was no procedural due process right to in-person hearing. Prof. Krent believed that VTC was the “wave of the future.” (Prof. Krent was sympathetic to the Agency’s name removal policy. The Agency was “adamant” about this policy. It prevents “forum shopping.”)
Prof. Krent stated that the Agency has no data on whether allowance rates are associated with particular MEs [Medical Experts] and VEs [Vocational Experts]. The Agency does not track outcomes by the name of the ME or VE.
The Agency does not know how long hearings last or the correlation between the length of the hearing and the result. The CALJ [Chief Administrative Law Judge] should investigate the consistency of the length of hearings.
Prof. Krent stated that the recent public discussions had reduced the allowance rates. Thus the publication of allowance rates were “not such a bad thing.” The CALJ should address low and high allowance rate ALJs.
Prof. Krent does not know whether the newer ALJs with Agency experience adjudicate claims differently than longstanding ALJs with more “trial” experience.
Prof. Krent suggested that the Agency provide ALJs with generalizations about adjudicative outcomes given claimant characteristics.
In federal court, the fifty-percent relief rate was consistent over many years. Federal courts grant relief for new evidence in only five percent of cases. The top two reasons for granting relief in court are the treating-source rule and inadequate consideration of mental limitations in terms of functional capacity. There is significant variation from district court to district court in terms of relief.
The Appeals Council is looking at 2,000 cases per year post-effectuation. There were more errors in favorable than unfavorable decisions.