Apr 9, 2014

Should Social Security Comb Through Social Media Postings By Disability Claimants?

     From the Washington Times:
Key members of Congress said Tuesday that two Social Security judges may have approved thousands of bogus disability claims, but the agency has never gone back to review those judges’ cases to stop the ones that were fraudulent.
Rep. James Lankford, Oklahoma Republican, and Rep. Jackie Speier, California Democrat, who head the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on health care, say Social Security employees should be allowed to look at the social media profiles of those applying for disability, reasoning that photos and other information people post can expose the applicants as able-bodied.
The lawmakers also said the agency should come up with a system to review cases from “red-flag” judges who show inclinations toward rubber-stamping applications.
In an exhaustive 11-page memo to Social Security acting Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin, the lawmakers detailed nearly a dozen recommendations for improving a disability system that has received an explosion of applications in recent years and is in danger of going bankrupt by 2016.
Mr. Lankford and Ms. Speier said it was indefensible that the agency hasn’t reviewed applications approved by two administrative law judges, David B. Daugherty in West Virginia and Charles Bridges in Pennsylvania, who have been accused of making bogus disability determinations. ...

The oversight committee has been looking into the disability issue for some time and took testimony from Jasper J. Bede, a regional chief administrative law judge who told investigators that some judges appeared to be rubber-stamping applications.
Judge Bede singled out Judge Bridges, who decided more than 2,000 cases a year and who often went beyond looking at an applicant’s disability and considered income or other factors.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

How about developing "red flags" for judges inclined to red stamp i.e. deny applications as well?

Justin

Anonymous said...

Of course, if their review and analysis is no better than Coburns...

Justin

Anonymous said...

I get sick of the Regional Chief Judges testifying as if they didn't know ALJ's under their watch were paying thousands of cases. Of course they knew and they were complicit. The regions wanted to meet "goal" and used these high volume judges to do it.

John R. Heard said...

From the article:

"But a review of cases from 1980 through 1983 found 40 percent of those receiving disability benefits were not disabled, suggesting a tremendous level of bad payments."

This is complete B.S. I note that no citation is provided for this "data".

Is the Washington Times owned by the Koch brothers? Is this typical of the quality of the work they put out?


Anonymous said...

I do not know whether a requirement to look at social media should be implemented, but it is a source that ought to be available to SSA, so long as SSA confronts the claimant with any adverse evidence and allows the claimant to refute it.

Of course, once applicants, representatives, and disability advocate groups realize that social media will be consulted, some claimants will manipulate their social media to portray themselves as extremely limited to help bolster their claims.

Anonymous said...

Instead of fixating on the social media recommendation or the language in the newspaper article, how about consulting the actual letter from the members of Congress to Colvin and recommendations such as:

• SSA needs to conduct timely continuing disability reviews (CDRs) and revise the Medical Improvement Standard.

• SSA’s risk-based approach for conducting CDRs should take into account individuals awarded benefits by red flag administrative law judges (ALJs).

• SSA should require claimants and their representatives to submit all evidence.

• SSA needs to modernize its medical-vocational guidelines.

• SSA should expand the Cooperative Disability Investigations program

Anonymous said...

"Modernizing the medical-vocational guidelines" = screw you, 50+ claimants, because the life expectancy is higher nowadays. #nonsequitur

Anonymous said...

Link to the actual memo:

http://oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/2014-04-08-Lankford-Speier-to-Colvin-SSA-SSDI-SSI-federal-disability-programs.pdf

Anonymous said...

ANON 1:39 -- that is the way it should be. Disability should actually mean "unable to work", not "able to do less physically demanding work but we are going to pretend you are disabled because you might have more trouble than a younger person finding a job."

Anonymous said...

Agree about SSA using social media. This is semi-public. Workers comp insurers in California do worse. They have numerous private investigations and tape people out and about.

Agree about Bridges. It is disturbing he grants over 2,000 cases. It is more disturbing he actually decides 2,000 cases. He is clearly not giving much thought to each case.

Agree they should also go after the low red-flag granters. They are just as ridiculous.

I have heard the SSA really only cares about how much each ALJ produces. They want 500-800 dispositions each year. I have heard they actually don't care if 100 percent or 0 percent are granted. They just want production so they do not have to hear about a backlog.

Anonymous said...

While rubber stamp grant Judge's certainly can be a problem, we really need to focus on the other extreme of Judges, those who deny nearly all cases that come before them. The damage that these Judges are doing to individual lives is much greater than the damage to the system by the high pay Judges.

When did what people put on social media turn into something that we could rely on? If anyone checked my Facebook account they would think I am the world's greatest chef, and look like I am 16 years old. Social media is used to portray what you want others to think about you, its not an accurate picture of who you really are or how you function.

Anonymous said...

While rubber stamp grant Judge's certainly can be a problem, we really need to focus on the other extreme of Judges, those who deny nearly all cases that come before them. The damage that these Judges are doing to individual lives is much greater than the damage to the system by the high pay Judges.

When did what people put on social media turn into something that we could rely on? If anyone checked my Facebook account they would think I am the world's greatest chef, and look like I am 16 years old. Social media is used to portray what you want others to think about you, its not an accurate picture of who you really are or how you function.

Anonymous said...

Lankford could care less about the program. He claims he wants to protect the truly disabled, but is really looking for an excuse to dismantle the program. He seemed dumbfounded when SSA testified that the proposals in his letter would not significantly change the DI trust fund surplus exhaustion date. He also appeared to be caught off guard when told that FICA tax allocations to the trust funds had been adjusted several times in the past to address shortfalls. Speier is similarly clueless.

Anonymous said...

I'm a beneficiary. Focus should be on new SSA employment programs that provide lifetime employment support for any receiptient that attempt gainful activity.

Such as if a beneficiary lose employment that is in anyway related to his/her impairments at anytime would be reinstated onto ssdi or ssi.

Or the government should provide support to private employers to hire people with disabilities. The ada is legal,inefficient nonsense in an employment setting.

Anonymous said...

I get SSI and have for many years, sure I have a FB page and I'm fairly active on the net, I an severely disabled and I didn't have any lawyer/attorney help Me get SSI, though I have x-rays, an MRI, real medical evidence(Sen. Tom Coburn is a Royal JACKASS), As is Rep Paul Lyin Ryan, all that doesn't imply nor should it that a person is able bodied, a person that is on the bet could be paralyzed from the neck down and be called able bodied by that yardstick.

Anonymous said...

'bet' should be 'Net'.

Anonymous said...

Being on the net doesn't imply being able bodied, the facebook pics posted of you laying on the beach sipping rum, riding your jet ski, cutting your grass, playing volleyball with the girls, and bowling with the guys is what classifies you as being able bodied...

Anonymous said...

Paying 1600 SSA ALJs to decide disability claims is a shameful waste of public money. Their salary far exceeds the value they provide. Any intelligent college graduate with good writing skills is capable of learning the program rules and making reasonable administrative decisions in all of these cases.

Unlike real judges, SSA ALJs don't write formal opinions and don't need to apply rules of evidence or procedure.

SSA ALJs don't even write their own unpublished decisions. Instead, SSA employs thousands of other lawyers to work behind the scenes writing decisions for the ALJs to sign. And when the SSA ALJs make mistakes, claimants request review by the Appeals Council where a thousand other lawyers work behind the scenes to fix the mistakes made by the ALJs. No wonder the system is going broke!

Anonymous said...

"11:59 PM, April 10, 2014"

Yes. I agree 100% with the above comment.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU FOR THE VOICE OF REASON!!!! Here is the comment I am referring to:

"When did what people put on social media turn into something that we could rely on? If anyone checked my Facebook account they would think I am the world's greatest chef, and look like I am 16 years old. Social media is used to portray what you want others to think about you, its not an accurate picture of who you really are or how you function.

4:34 PM, April 09, 2014"

Anonymous said...

If we are going to rely on facts from facebook, let's back them up with other credible decision making tools such as mood rings....

Anonymous said...

So now they want the chronically understaffed SSA, which is having to cut field office hours and services due to lack of adequate funding, to comb through millions of claimant facebook pages? Wow, that's dumb. Considering the volume and unreliability of the material involved, it would be an incredible waste of time and taxpayer money.

I am with you, ANON 4:35. I've seen a fairly large sampling of cases over the past 20 years, and only a very small portion appeared to involve fraud. For each of those, I could point at more than a few cases in which a well documented, obviously meritorious disability claim was egregiously denied. Each time that happens, SSA fails its mission in a way that hurts people.

Mr. Lankford and Ms. Speier, it's doubly indefensible that you and your Committee are not looking into the adjudicators who are outlier deniers. You should be even more concerned about making sure that your constituents with legitimate claims are not wrongly delayed and denied by adjudicators who chronically misapply the rules in ways that hurt them.

Anonymous said...

The whole disability program is a farce! Things are even going to get worse. In a recent email, the Commissioner of Social Security announced that the Agency will be working with community organizers and other agencies to get the word out about the disability program. OMG!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you say "redistribution of wealth"

Anonymous said...

Yeah, redistribution back to where they got it.. the people. That's how an economy works..It's like a game of Monopoly.. when someone owns all the wealth, 'the game is over' and the economy collapses. Think things through..

Claudia Rosenburg said...

I think it's weird that people use social media to determine things like this. You can't gauge a person's disability from their social media page. Regardless of that, it's good to know that they do use those type of things against you. I will have to let my friends and family know that this could be a potential issue if they ever want to make a disability claim.
Claudia Rosenburg | http://www.marzella-law.com