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Aug 7, 2013

Layoffs At Allsup

     From the Belleville, IL News Democrat:
Local Social Security disability claims company Allsup Inc. is cutting 65 jobs.
Rebecca Ray, director of corporate public relations for Allsup, said employees were being notified Tuesday. She said the cuts affect jobs within different departments at the Belleville-based company. ...

Ray said the layoffs are coming as a result of federal budget constraints and changes in the Social Security Administration. She said the company is adjusting and focusing on new business opportunities. ...
[A]fter the employee reduction, the company will have a total of about 700 employees.

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2013/08/06/2730810/allsup-laying-off-65-employees.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2013/08/06/2730810/allsup-laying-off-65-employees.html#storylink=cpy

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    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Federal budget constraints and changes at Social Security...pretty vague, pointing the finger. Perhaps it is that they are losing the lion share of claims because there is so much competition from the other large national firms.

    Just think of how many attorney firms would go out of business if SSA was fully staffed and could actually reduce processing time. Fees would drop even if the percentage of approval to denial remained the same.

    9:44 AM, August 07, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Agreed with @9:44...with the number of allowances increasing, not sure how they can point the finger at SSA.

    Also, reps should be careful what they wish for, 25% of back pay will continue to get smaller if the backlog decreases. The fees will still be way out of proportion with the actual work performed, but they will be smaller.

    10:19 AM, August 07, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    What is the exact role these companies play in the claims process.

    And do they have a decent accuracy rating, or do they play a role in how claimants are viewed so poorly in the media as deadbeats with nothing wrong with them?

    10:53 AM, August 07, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The vast majority of Allsup's business is through Long Term Disability carriers. As such, much of their caseload is solid claims. Additionally, in those situations, the company is paid a flat fee if the claimant is approved for benefits, regardless of the amount of retroactive pay.

    Insurance carriers pressure claimant's to choose Allsup because they have an extensive information sharing network with the insurance companies and cater to their wishes. That is why it is a "non attorney" firm, because in any other scenario, an attorney would be engaging in a blatant conflict of interest.

    Why my fellow lawyers who practice in disability law put up with non-attorney nonsense is beyond me. Nevertheless, compared to another national law firm, Allsup's non-attorney's are paid well and have a great benefits package. Not to mention is that it has a reputation of being a "fun" place to work.

    11:20 AM, August 07, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    "Why my fellow lawyers who practice in disability law put up with non-attorney nonsense is beyond me"

    Really, what "nonsense" are you talking about? I can't think of one thing about representing clients in front of SSA that would actually require any legal training or expertise.

    1:12 PM, August 07, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    11:20 Anon: What do you even mean "put up with"? Do attorneys have a choice of putting up with non-attorneys or not? It's not like attorneys are in court against non-attorneys. What course of action are the attorneys going to take against non-attorneys so they don't have to "put up" with them any more.

    I am an attorney and am confident enough in my own abilities to not disparage non-attorneys. I know many of them that are far more capable than some attorneys. And vice versa.

    3:07 PM, August 07, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    It stands to reason an experienced SSDI attorney will be a better advocate than one who did not go through rigors of law school and who is not familiar with case law.

    That being said, SSDI attorneys do not have their own advocacy organization for lawyers (NOSSCR uses the term "representatives), nor was there any uproar when Astrue permitted non-attorneys to get direct payment. This was probably due to pressure from Nancy Shor Binder and also a method of reducing the backlog.

    3:32 PM, August 07, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The problem is that the local Bar can't control non-attorneys and has no right to punish them. Ever try to get a non-attorney arrested by the local solicitor for practicing law without a license? Good Luck with that..

    4:25 PM, August 07, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    @10:19 AM, what world are you living in "with the number of allowances increasing"? I must assume you are talking raw number of cases and not actual percentages?

    5:04 PM, August 07, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Agree with @ 4:25 PM. A lawyer is subject to greater ethical restraints than non-attorney reps due to state bar ethical codes. These impose separate and additional ethical obligations, such as the duty of candor to the tribunal, ethical considerations upon withdrawal, restrictions on solicitation of clients, limitations on reasonableness of fees, etc.

    5:25 PM, August 07, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    @ 5:04...numbers increasing means exactly what it says. Where did you see anything about percentages?

    @3:32 "it stands to reason an experienced SSDI attorney will be a better advocate than one who did not go through rigors of law school and who is not familiar with case law." Are you serious? I am a licensed attorney who attended a prestigious law school. Nothing I learned there would prepare me to advocate for SS claimants. Also, to call law school requirements as "rigors" is a joke. Lastly, the case law for SS can be learned in a week (probably much less) and is largely irrelevant in the vast majority of cases that Allsup handles (50+, hoping for a GRID finding).

    I find it hilarious when attorneys try to justify the $6,000 they get for showing putting up a billboard and showing up at a hearing. Get real, the job is cake and doesn't require a legal degree.

    7:14 PM, August 07, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...


    the way it is practiced is cake.

    I used to agree with you. I am an attorney with SSA, and now having been here a little while, I disagree.

    Social Security disability (and other areas) law is quite detailed and nuanced, with rather interesting quirks between the circuits. There is no way one could "learn the case law" in a week or so. Not enough to be halfway competent. Even for Alsup's bread and butter cases--50+ hoping to grid--there is plenty of detailed case law that will affect your claimant. Evidence from much before or after the DLI or AOD? How can it be used? That depends a whole lot on the circuit, and the various courts' position is quite interesting.

    It's idiots who are only interested in volume with just enough selectivity to beat the average pay rate who dumb down the practice of this area of law by:

    1) not cross-examining expert witnesses on the various areas of vaguery and nuance that just might win your case (there's something I can think of that's remotely the practice of law going on in hearings--cross-examination of expert witnesses!);

    2) not preparing halfway-decent briefs. ALJs are busy--if you gave them a good brief with convincing, detailed rationale, many are likely to buy in; and,

    3) not getting at the specific functional limitations that will direct a finding of disability (do you know what SSRs 85-15, 96-8p, 96-9p, etc. really say? There are gems in them there SSRs if you actually read them...).

    Sorry for the rant, but having been on the inside for a while, I can see that disability (and SSA law generally) law is quite interesting and nuanced. It aggravates me to hear people, especially people without a law degree (and thus the expertise to make comments on the depth or whatever of an area of law generally, or compared to other areas of practice), professing that SS law is a joke and easy. Maybe the practice of it has become that way, but it's only because of people like you.

    10:24 AM, August 08, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The anonymous at 7:14 obviously is not a lawyer. $6000 for a case, not anymore, that is more of a rare exception these days. What about getting $2000-2500 for just making a plea deal on a DUI case? Or how about collecting 1/3 of an accident settlement by simply writing a letter to the insurance company? Charging an arm and a leg for estate planning by simply plugging in names into a Word template?

    As far as learning SSDI law in a week, even Binder and Binder does more than a week training on their "advocates." However, I doubt they went to the prestigous law school you claimed to attend.

    10:58 AM, August 08, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    10:58, there is something you are forgetting. Law, such as estate law has a big area of liability for the attorney involved. You can lose your license and everything you own and hope to ever own by plugging the wrong word into a Word template. Same with almost any area of law, except SSA. I have never, ever ehard of anyone losing a malpractice case based upon a screw up by the attorney regarding something like date last insured. As a matter of fact, the Judge and staff work harder for the claimant than the atttorneys do. There is next to no liability in practicing SSA law and therefore a very easy area of law to practice, even if you attempt to do it right as has been mentioned above. Learn the case, do a brief, argue things arguable and not some one time doctor statement that the claimant can hardly breath and never move from the recliner, with no supporting documents.

    12:35 PM, August 08, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    10:24 and 12:35 are right on. I've been both an attorney decision writer at ODAR and an attorney rep, and there is an epidemic of laziness and lack of zealous representation amongst a certain group of attorneys. It's horrifying. And they seem to know that their clients lack sophistication to file ethical claims. I wish something could be done to remedy this problem.

    3:04 PM, August 08, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    As with almost any stereotype, there is a slight hint of truth to it, at least on an anecdotal basis. All the lawyer bashing going on above seems to be based on the few bad apples who have no business representing claimants. But to lump all attorneys into the same group is not well founded.

    The practice of law in the SSA field has continually become harder and harder in the 20 years that I have been doing it. Nearly every issue is now contested (some rightly so)and claimants are presumed to be less than credible by the majority of folks at SSA. I am writing multiple briefs on cases, taking more and more cases to the Appeals Council and USDC all while the average fee on a case is becoming smaller and smaller. Its more work for less pay. But its all worth it when you know that you make a difference for your clients. Without having me strongly advocating their case for them, many (certainly not all) of my client's would stand no chance against the Administration. I take great satisfaction in being able to develop and present a claim that forces an ALJ to approve it even though you know that is the last thing they really want to do.

    3:42 PM, August 08, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    This is 3:04 again. No, we can't lump all the attorneys together, but I just wishI'd see at least half filing briefs, cross-examining experts and being creative in case theories. I agree with 3:42- it's about helping your client. I'm sad when I write decisions for so many claimants getting no real help from their representative, who often don't even meet them the day of the hearing.

    4:24 PM, August 08, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    As far as Judges not wanting to pay cases, I want to pay cases, however, I am often constrained by the regulations to not pay them. Further, hardly anybody is disabled on the day they say. Their condition worsens. Man up and come in with a realistic amended onset date and see what the Judges will do for you. There is no need to argue until you ar eblue in the face if the Judge says there is no supporting documentation for that date or allegation. Be reasonable, look at the record and see what makes sense. That later car wreck that broke his dominant hand and caused nerve damage?? Go for it.. The PTSD because he heard about a buddy getting killed in Iraq? Not even diagnosible by DSM.

    4:45 PM, August 08, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    @4:45 Man up? Seriously? Now it is the claimant's job to know when the medical evidence supports a diagnosis? You are having a little problem understanding the role of the players. The claimant knows how he or she feels. They want the ALJ to spend a day in their shoes, looking for a way to get some money to survive. Kind of crazy to expect a claimant to understand the nuances of a finding of disability under the law.
    It is the job of the professionals, the ALJ, to make the legal distinction about the evidence. You need to 'man up' and do the job you are paid to do; listen to and read the evidence and make a decision.
    And the bottom line is that whether the onset date is established as sometime in 2009 or 2011, an award of SSDI is pretty much a guarantee of money for life. I laugh when I see the end line of an ALJ decision stating medical improvement is expected in 12 months after a case has been going up and down the appeals ladder for seven years. Like setting a short CDR date is really something meaningful and that a year from the ALJ decision SSA will have time and staff to complete the CDR, that DDS will be able to find medical improvement from the decision they could never have made, that the claimant would not prevail again if they went through the appeals process since such a tiny percentage of claimants are ever ceased.

    9:40 AM, August 09, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    @4:45 "I am constrained by the regulations" is a total cop-out on your part and simply a means of finding a way to live with yourself. The regulations don't stand in the way of approving cases, they actually help. (See SSR 96-8p for example)

    I think I know your type, you want to be in control and are always trying to tinker with onset dates in cases. My guess is most folks go along with your suggestions as you would otherwise deny the claim completely just to make a point. I wish SSA started providing statistics for not only fully fav, part fav, and unfav decision, but also fully fav decisions where the AOD was amended. There are certain ALJs who would rank high in that category and it has more to do with their desire to wield power than the evidence in a case.

    2:10 PM, August 09, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Guess what guys, steps 1 through 4 the burden of proof is on the claimant. Amended onset dates are based on the documentation. Very few claimants are disabled the day after the plant closed or they were laid off.. Duhhhhhh..

    7:46 PM, August 09, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    What I have never understood is why an ALJ has to get the claimant to AGREE to an amended onset date. Geez, the ALJ is the JUDGE and doesn't have to anyone's agreement. And holding the amended onset out as a carrot; if you agree with the amended onset, you'll be approved. If you don't agree you'll be denied. If the evidence supports a later onset, the ALJ should 'man up' and make the partially favorable decision. The only reason I can see for getting the claimant to agree is that then there is no basis to appeal and the ALJ is afraid the decision will be overturned by the AC.

    9:35 PM, August 09, 2013  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The reason for the amended onset date is that if one does a later onset, one has to do two RFC's, two sets of rationale and it takes 2-3 times as long for the writer to write it. If the claimant/rep doesn't agree to the amended onset date, I still pay the claimant as a later onset as my requested amended onset is based on supporting documentation, but the decision may not get written for 4-6 weeks and take more time for editing and possible corrections if the writer doesn't get it right the first time. Just trying to speed up everything for everybody. Once or twice I have suggested an amended onset date and would have had a short hearing, but when the rep refused we had a full scale hearing and the more the claimant testified, the more it became apparent he wasn't disabled at all..

    12:41 AM, August 10, 2013  

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