Apr 13, 2016

Eric Conn's Former Clients Get Some Help

    The Social Security Administration is trying to cut off the disability benefits of more than 1,500 former  clients of indicted attorney Eric Conn even thought those clients did nothing wrong.  John Rosenberg writes for the Lexington, KY Herald Leader on the work of 135 attorneys who have volunteered to help those who are facing the loss of their income. So far, their efforts have helped more than half of those who have gotten decisions stay on benefits.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're almost pathologically incapable of stating anything in a fair, nontendentious way. SSA is not "trying to cut off benefits," i.e., trying to wipe liabilities off the books to save money. It is simply, in a nutshell, making sure that all entitlements to benefits are determined fairly, without fraudulent evidence playing a role. The process by which all 1500 of these claimants were initially awarded their benefits was utterly and obviously perverted. Why is that so hard to admit, and that in fairness to the taxpayers, *something* has to be done about it?

Yes, I do believe that most of those 1500 went to Conn in good faith, both believing that they were disabled (of course, some were wrong about that as a medical-legal matter, as laypeople will be) and not knowing that the fix would be in (unnecessarily in many cases, of course). I further believe that there was plenty of willful blindness if not complicity in SSA management in ignoring both signs of criminal conduct and flat-out whistleblowing of same. But what, then? We're just supposed to say that the fouls of the conspirators and the fouls of SSA's numbers-obsessed management offset each other, and we just play on from here? We just ignore that 99.5% of Conn-Daugherty applicants were allowed for a period of years? Are not the taxpayers as well as the applicants entitled to a fair determination of benefit entitlements?

This group of applicants never went through a fair process to get their benefits. Take any group of bona fide applicants - wouldn't a 60% success rate be about what you'd expect (if not more than what you'd expect)? So the redetermination process appears to be working, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

You're right, 12:40: SSA is not "trying" to cut off benefits. They DID cut off benefits. And in the process, caused untold amounst of pain, stress, and some suicides...

Anonymous said...

@12:40, You are correct that "Are not the taxpayers as well as the applicants entitled to a fair determination of benefit entitlements?" I believe that the taxpayers did not get the fair determination required on initial determination of disability, and now the applicants are not getting the fair determination to which they are entitled on the redetermination. SSA has created the rules for redetermining these cases as they have gone along and there are certainly questions as to the fairness of those rules.

I am not suggesting that these individuals should just remain on benefits without further inquiry, its just that the inquiry needs to be fair to all involved, not just SSA.

Anonymous said...

Aren't most claimants taxpayers too? werent some disabled tax paying former coal miners cut off due to Huntington fraud by *SSA management* conspiring with Conn to boost those numbers and reduce the backlog?

Anonymous said...

The anonymous SSA defender above is failing to recognize that the claimants who were represented by Conn are having their due process rights violated. No credible person is suggesting that these cases should not go through a redetermination process.

The violation of the claimants due process rights are being violated by discontinuing their benefits before the redetermination of benefits process has even occurred.

The proper procedure would have been to allow the individuals to continue to receive their benefits through the redetermination of benefits process... not stop their benefits before they had an opportunity to even present their case.

The position that the Administration has taken in handling these matters has absolutely violated the due process of these claimants.

Anonymous said...

@ 1:53PM

BRAVO!

Anonymous said...

12:40 here. Wrong, 1:53. These claimants were only receiving benefits in the first place thanks to a complete lack of due process. Where was the due process for the taxpayers when criminals and woefully negligent overseers were conspiring to hand out disability benefits like candy? Nobody has had due process yet. Now they're getting it. By the same logic of "continue their benefits that were awarded without due process unless and until the redetermination finds the claimant was not disabled after all," convicted people should be kept in jail without bond even after a motion for new trial is granted.

Anonymous said...

@12:40 (@4:07) your lack of understanding of what constitutes due process is astounding.

If there was any issues with the credibility of the process when benefits were awarded, that was caused by the lack of institutional control/oversight of the Administration. There has never been any allegation that any claimant knowingly manipulated the process to obtain benefits.

Your example on criminals who somehow are able to obtain a new trial should be kept in jail is nonsensical. In Criminal proceedings every effort is made to protect an accusers constitutional rights and often times they are able to post a bond if all their convictions were overturned.

Furthermore, your logic is faulty and you are somehow confused who is actually a party to a proceeding for a claim for disability benefits. Your comments demonstrate your total lack of understanding of the difference between a title II and title XVI claim. Those claimants who are title II recipients have paid into the system with their own money. Further, the funds used to support the remainder of disability claims are allocated from the disability trust fund.

You lack a total understanding on how the disability claims process works and how it is paid for.

Your motivations for how and why your posting comments on a topic you clearly do not fully understand or comprehend are dubious and suspect.

Anonymous said...

The Government is entitled to due process? King John of England wasn't even so bold although he signed the Magna Carta at sword point. King Charles of the House of Stuart probably would have made such a claim but his legal positions didn't end too well either. Do people who regularly read this blog seriously not understand that the Bill of Rights are a restraint on action of government? Soviet legal scholars would have also appreciated the rights of the "people" to protection from individuals.....

Anonymous said...

1:20 wrote:

SSA is not "trying" to cut off benefits. They DID cut off benefits.

-----------------------------------------

Please stop spreading misinformation and half-truths. SSA has continued to pay benefits to all of the affected people pending redetermination hearings. That point has been widely publicized since last year.

I wonder if that key piece of information would cause people like 1:53 to reconsider statements like this:

"The violation of the claimants due process rights are being violated by discontinuing their benefits before the redetermination of benefits process has even occurred.

The proper procedure would have been to allow the individuals to continue to receive their benefits through the redetermination of benefits process... not stop their benefits before they had an opportunity to even present their case."

Anonymous said...

The benefits were in fact cut off.

Look the facts up before you post.

Anonymous said...

@ 8:49AM

Your post strongly intimates you are an ODAR insider among the powers that be in Falls Church, VA, ODAR headquarters.

That being said, the gross misinformation you disseminate shows exactly what's wrong with ODAR management at the highest levels, and is representative as to why the 1 million+ backlog of disability cases exists, ie, inept and incompetent managers, many of whom are reemployed annuitants and holdovers from a bygone error who were not only clueless way back when, but corrupt and self-serving with a willingness to engage in illegal acts, or whatever was necessary to feed themselves and their favorites at the expense of the Federal careers of many creative and innovative employees who made the gruesome mistake of offering strategies to compelling issues which differed from yours.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see this, but it is apparently going to take an Act of Congress before any meaningful changes will be made. Very sad, indeed.

Anonymous said...

9:31 AM,

... and were very promptly reinstated. This is one of the points that those railing against SSA conveniently leave out when they say things like "The violation of the claimants due process rights are being violated by discontinuing their benefits before the redetermination of benefits process has even occurred."

Also, people keep referring to "the 1500" as though their situations are all the same. SSI recipients did not have their benefits suspended.

As the first poster pointed out, the fact remains that these claimants were initially awarded benefits based on a fraudulent process, and they are currently receiving those improperly awarded benefits pending their redetermination hearings. The narrative that these claimants are being "punished" by a corrupt system is exceptionally misleading. The current process is an imperfect attempt to remedy a no-win situation, but there is no malicious intent here, despite what Ned Pillersdorf would have everyone believe.

Anonymous said...

10:47 AM,

I am not an ODAR insider or a judge. I've simply followed this situation from the beginning on this blog and in the news.

Nowhere in your rant do you explain what "gross misinformation" I disseminated. I simply pointed out that every claimant who initially received a notice of suspension was ultimately allowed to keep the benefits pending redetermination. If that's misinformation, then you'll have to let the media and Hal Rogers know so that they can print retractions.

Anyway, it's clear that you're more interested in finding an outlet for your pent-up rage than in discussing the issue intelligently, so I'll just let you carry on...

Anonymous said...

10:57 you are either misinformed or naive. You do sound like management though, especially in the way that you pejoratively characterize 10:47's questions about your logic as a "rant."

Here are some questions to consider:

Didn't SSA management send out a mass mailing of suspension letters in May of last year that cut disability benefits in the Conn/ALJ Daugherty cases? And wasn't the process was so poorly planned and executed that management almost immediately had to announce a reversal of its plan to suspend benefits - mainly under pressure from Hal Rogers after one of the claimant's committed suicide?

Further, isn't the entire Huntington situation just another example of the extent to which SSA appointees and management prostitute the disability program to Congress? Doesn't it represent a serious crisis in leadership that has existed since at least 2008? When Congress "traumatized" the newly appointed Astrue about the backlog back in 2009, didn't he and his team proceed to generously reward high producing offices like Huntington?

You are very naive if you think that agency appointees and management did not see the stats and know quite well that Daugherty stood out like a sore thumb in issuing 1000 favorable decisions a year during the Astrue/Sklar reign. Their big brag was all the data they were collecting about ALJ stats. But, did the appointees do anything to stop Daugherty in 2010 and 2011? No. Instead, wasn't one appointee traveling around the country trying to bully low producing ALJs into upping their production or else retiring and/or moving on to something else?

Just food for thought.

Anonymous said...

10:25 PM,

I'm not misinformed or naive. I made one simple point - that the benefits that were cut off were reinstated, and that SSI recipients were not cut off. I didn't defend the initial suspension letters. I didn't defend SSA's inaction while Conn was perpetrating his scheme. I did say that the redetermination hearings are an imperfect but necessary solution now that the damage has been done.

Unfortunately, the commenter at 10:47 AM decided to take those very simple points, call them "gross misinformation," and then go on a tangent about "inept and incompetent mangers" and "remployed annuitants" who are "clueless, corrupt, and self-serving with a willingness to engage in illegal acts" and "feed themselves and their favorites at the expense of the Federal careers of many creative and innovative employees who made the gruesome mistake of offering strategies to compelling issues which differed from yours." That is the very definition of a rant. That poster took a simple attempt to clarify an obvious point of confusion and used it as a platform to vent about SSA management.

Unfortunately, you've done the same thing. Again, I didn't defend the initial decision to cut off benefits - I simply pointed out that SSA quickly reversed course. Many people (including the commenter at 1:53 PM) appear to have missed that point amid all the rhetoric.

And then you make a comment like this: "You are very naive if you think that agency appointees and management did not see the stats and know quite well that Daugherty stood out like a sore thumb in issuing 1000 favorable decisions a year during the Astrue/Sklar reign." It's fine if you want to do that, but you're arguing against a strawman. Please show me where I suggested that SSA was blameless. I didn't. Because they're not.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:59AM

10:47AM here. You certainly sound like management, an appointee or a retiree from either. Regardless, my remarks are NOT a “Rant” because what I said is true and accurate. You see, I have been with ODAR 30 some years. Everything I said I have repeatedly witnessed first-hand through the years, and I am aware of the appointees and reemployed annuitants currently at the helm in Falls Church. They do continue to engage in self-serving ‘illegal’ acts to protect themselves and their favorites at the expense of the Federal careers of other employees who made the ‘gruesome’ mistake of engaging and coming up with creative and innovative solutions to real challenges. What about the cover-up recently addressed in several posts, which Acting Commissioner Colvin is involved? There are reasons she was not confirmed SSA Commissioner or re-nominated by the President. Moreover, look at the shenanigans involved with Eanes’ confirmation hearing postponed in early March followed by assertions from top Agency officials that Colvin would not be giving up her power as Acting SSA Commissioner, but merely stepping down to presumably an SES position with the President’s permission (Executive Order), which is contrary to the law and heretofore unheard of. The convincing evidence intimates Colvin is protecting wrongdoers whose acts have been confirmed by appropriate investigative authorities.

These individuals include top management and reemployed managerial annuitants from years ago, favorites, and others. These managers were just as clueless way back when as they are today. Historically, I frequently observed them demonize employees who offered creative and innovative solutions to known Agency issues and problems which differed from theirs, and then set on a course to prematurely force those employees out the door. The number of lives, careers and families destroyed by these individuals is uncanny. At one point, when a legal petition to remove certain of these managers was presented to former Chief ALJ Boyer, the Agencies’ response was a non-response. In other words, they did absolutely nothing despite the overwhelming evidence of harassment and oppression presented then, and in so doing, gave a green light for these top managers to continue to engage in such prohibited personnel practices. There has been no accountability for many years, and this has to change.

Other recent examples of ‘clueless’ top ODAR management include the hiring of AAJ’s to handle some of ODAR’s backlog. The number of Agency employees at the GS-14 level who can apply is very limited, and quite noticeably excludes experienced SAA’s who have been adjudicating cases for years. Someone suggested it appears as though the job opening may very well have been created to save a ‘favorite’ attorney HOD who either is, or is about to be under the gun for enabling wrongdoing. Another example is the decision by top manager’s to destroy the SAA program in response to the Huntington situation when SAA’s were not responsible or involved in the fraud, and statistically, the SAA program remained successful through the years despite the repeated bashing and limitations placed on the program.

So, as a first hand witness and 30+ years of observation, my assertions are anything but a “Rant.”

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Bossmom1957@outlook.com said...

Fair? I went through the process, didn't walk for 2 years, living in a wheelchair. Was deemed disabled by their doctors, but for 4 years I never received a penny. 6 figure but found myself living on the streets; homeless. Now, calling their office, I was told that my benefits were being direct deposited into my account. My bank account had been emptied and closed. The rep for SSA has taken my identity & money for 14 years. OIG has had my complaint since 2002 and has done nothing. I advise all to check their wages and earnings statement, because this rep is receiving my benefits and as soon as I filed my complaint, my amended tax return was taken by IRS. I was accused of filing a "BOGUS" return. I'm now being charged as a convicted felon, but I've never been arrested. SSA is pure evil!
Discrimination, fraud, and a violation of my Constitutional Rights. I contacted the U.S. Supreme Court, and spoke with their Deputy Clerk Jay Travis who asked my name, and once I told him he said I wouldn't like my answer even if I did file in their court. I've provided documents showing my earnings, but SSA & IRS insists on W2's showing my earnings but they say it's my responsibility to have these documents. As far as I'm concerned, they're all thieves. This affects my retirement as well. My annual FICA earnings was $50,000 & it shows on their printouts.