Nov 8, 2016

ODAR Workload And Performance Summary -- FY 2016 -- Rapid Deterioration In Service And SSA Doesn't Care

     This was obtained from Social Security by the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR) and published in their newsletter (which isn't available online). Click on the image to view it full size.
     Note that they were getting in an average of 2,798 new cases per workday in fiscal year 2016 but only disposing of 2,545 cases per day. That's a 9% shortfall. The backlog increased by 61,107 cases over the course of the fiscal year. Those are real people, most of whom will ultimately be found disabled.
     Note that Senior Attorney dispositions totaled only 1,187 cases over the entire fiscal year. Social Security, you can pretend to credulous members of Congress that you care about the backlogs but don't try telling that to me. It's simple. If you care about the backlogs, you take the brakes off and increase the number of Senior Attorney decisions dramatically. If you're not willing to do that, you just don't care about the backlogs. Senior Attorney decisions are an excellent way of doing something quickly about the backlogs. They don't ultimately do anything other than quickly approve cases that would ultimately be approved anyway.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Unless you have the staff to do the work, it does not matter how many ALJS you have. With people retiring and no ability to hire replacements, service deteriorates.

Anonymous said...

In theory, the SA favorable decisions would ultimately be paid at hearing. But reading the decisions of the 20% approval range ALJs, I'm not so sure. It's sad the ways some of these decisions tie themselves in knots to justify denying a 55+ aged claimant. I think SSA is worried about the approval rates going back up if they reinstate the full SA program.

Anonymous said...

@8:39

It isn't too difficult if the ALJ says your client is 52 instead of 62 (when they are 62) and the Appeals Council ignores the error, requiring the courts to actually get involved to fix an obvious error.

Anonymous said...

When you have a powerful management judge such as former Atlanta ROCALJ Ollie Garmon, III, (see article and comments below), illegally forcing an experienced and successful Senior Attorney, who had been with the SA program from its STDP inception in 1995, and who was known and had worked with the local bar of SSA Disability Attorneys, as well as non-attorneys, for many years, out of their career and job for no good reason in 2013, and an Acting SSA Commissioner in Colvin, who went to great lengths to maintain her power as Agency Head just so she could coddle and protect Garmon from being held accountable in any way, and worked out a sweet deal for him by gerrymandering an ODAR Hearings Office near his home in GA while he is working out of Headquarters in Falls Church, VA, the Agency has officially become corrupt. These top officials are undeniably guilty of malfeasance. The circumstances now clearly require the appointment of a Special Prosecutor and Hearings.

Anonymous said...

@8:39

I fully agree. It was never the intent of Congress the SSA Disability Process was supposed to concur with political ideology, such as in denying every case possible, and bending over backwards trying to justify the denial, i.e., 20% approval rate. Those who run and manage the SSA Disability Process at the Agency level are not supposed to be concerned with having a high number of denial decisions, or panicking over O-T-R decisions by Senior Attorneys or ALJ's. To the contrary, they should manage the Agency in terms of efficiency, while monitoring for abuse of process, whether it be Huntington, Garmon's gerrymandered office, or the recent retaliation and abuse in Wisconsin and the Chicago Region. The Agency must allow decisional independence, even for Senior Attorneys, (although monitoring for abuse of process), and TRUST the court system and appellate process to serve as a check and balance on decisions found to be in error, and leave it at that. Stop all the micromanaging, and obsession with production numbers/quotas and simply allow the process to work as it was originally intended.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the above comments. I recognize that NOSSCR and NADR (as well as other organizations) have other things on their plate. What if any efforts have they made to curtail this situation. (Lobbying, input into a democratic administration's policy and personnel decision's etc)

It seems to me if any change is going to happen, the claimant's bar (through their representative organizations ) needs to apply pressure to the elected representatives and other administration personnel to effect any real change.

The problems seem somewhat obvious but no solution is being pursued other than to wait and see if the Administration fixes themselves.

Does anyone feel similarly or have any other input to add to this?

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Tim said...

I'm guessing the ALJ's union doesn't want the Senior Attorney's to take their easiest cases, because it would make the ALJ's approval rates even lower (all else the same) and Colvin, etc. support the union(s). It wouldn't surprise me if Colvin and Obama WANTED the backlog to go higher! Why? To "punish" the Republicans for not giving SSA the operating budget they wanted. For those who doubt me, I'll tell you about my experience during the Sequester. I was at a National Park that was going to elliminate future tours, which always sell out at that time of year! So, I asked, "Why would the National Parks cancel revenue generating activities during a budget crunch?" The ranger said, "We were told the public needs to FEEL the PAIN of the Sequester!" A President that PETTY might even want the disabled to FEEL the PAIN for having a Congress thatwon't give him the money he wants! Obviously, it's not about the claimants!

Anonymous said...

@3:53 I believe you are at least partially correct.

If Clinton/Kane win (Which pretty much everyone expects will happen) and if the Dems retake control (albeit Slim control) of the Senate.... What changes would we expect to see and over what timeframe?

Anonymous said...

ALJ Dispositions per judge per day FY 2015 2.10
ALJ Dispositions per judge per day FY 2016 1.90

I believe the production per day was at 2.3 about three years ago.
I asked the SSA people at the NOSSCR conference why. They laughed. They either have no idea or they have an idea (actually know why) but refuse to say.

Charles is right. They flat out don't care.

Anonymous said...

@353. I think you're talking about the shutdown, not sequester

you said "feel the pain" as though it's a bad thing. If the gov't shuts down, and no one "feels it" then the public going to assume that it doesn't need funding. frankly, the president should have done more to make everyone "Feel the pain" -- stop paying the military, stop the mail, shut down the air traffic controllers, etc. when people realize how their taxes actually affect them, they are more likely to support funding it.

Tim said...

4:24 PM. Spring of 2013... NOT during the "shutdown."
4:02 PM. Hillary has given us no reason to believe that she'll be different than Obama. Trump, however, wants to fix things and get rid of government corruption. I don't know what he'll end up doing. However, he wants to grow the economy and THAT would help all budgetary matters. Increasing taxes and regulations never increases economic growth!

Anonymous said...

@4:57

Increasing sales and personal taxes do not generally stimulate economic growth, as this decreases consumer spending. Increasing corporate taxes stimulates economic growth as threatening corporate net income encourages corporations to incur additional expenses through investing in jobs (payroll expenses), infrastructure (capital gains), or any number of other activities which results in economic growth. The only caveat is that the tax increase must be moderate enough to not actually threaten the viability of the corporation itself, and must not affect an industry which could find it more affordable to move operations overseas.

In regard to regulation, it depends more on the industry. Certainly regulating manufacturing could result in jobs being shipped overseas, or the crippling of domestic manufacturing in general. However, regulating the trucking industry through requiring daily work breaks and limiting work hours to only 70 hours per week (yes that really is the maximum imposed) has created a shortage of truckers. This shortage has and will continue to result in job growth as it is corrected.

As Trump has pretty much proposed no policy measures which would explain how he intends to increase economic growth, I can't compare his plans to Clinton's. However, tax increases and regulations can increase economic growth.

Tim said...

5:42 PM. Based upon your logic, Obamacare creates growth by limiting hours people in practice can work by creating more jobs. Some people have 3 or 4 of them!. Trump wants to bring manufacturing jobs back by making it cheaper to make goods here! This would increase our economy without necessarily increasing consumer spending. Increasing corporate taxes just encourages companies to locate elsewhere (Burger King) and then not reinvest overseas income here!

Anonymous said...

5:42 here.

@6:00

Obamacare butchered the healthcare industry. I'm not defending Obamacare. You also have ignored all the jobs lost due to the collapse of the health insurance industry, so throw that on the pile of negative economic growth it has created.

Let me put it this way. How would a corporation satisfy the regulatory burden Obamacare places on the corporation? One way, the easiest way, is to cut employees' hours to under 35 hours per week to avoid the corporation having to contribute to their employees' health insurance plans. This result will obviously decrease economic growth.

Now, explain to me how limiting truckers to 70 hours per week which still provides ample disposable income for the trucker to buy consumer goods negatively impacts economic growth?

You stated regulations never increase economic growth. They can.

Anonymous said...

Looks like trump is the next president
Turn out the lights
The parties over
Not a good time to be disabled in this country....

Anonymous said...

Don't look for more staff now. SSA will be lucky to hang on to what it has. Hopefully there will be a complete sweep of the people whove been peddling data analytics in ODAR. Case processing has slowed and morale has tanked under their regime.

Anonymous said...

@3:30

SSA won't need what it has if social security is privatized.

Anonymous said...

@3:30

AMEN!

Goodbye Data Analytics and high level Agency officials who've been peddling it ...

Goodbye Carolyn Colvin and top officials who've been completely inept at managing the Disability components of the Agency, leading it into a massive train wreck with no end in sight ...

Goodbye Carolyn Colvin, et. al., and the cover ups of misconduct and wrongdoing including criminal, ... refusal to hold those responsible accountable, but give them sweet deals instead, like the ODAR office near powerful management ALJ and former Atlanta ROCALJ Ollie Garmon's home, (waste fraud and abuse be damned), ...

Goodbye to pissed poor management and your repeated Prohibited Personnel abd Unfair Labor Practices, retaliation, and numerous cases of unspeakable harassment and abuse ...

WELCOME change ... top officials and a management team with insight, critical thinking skills, and the ability to manage a 21st century workforce, rather than the petty, inefficient, micromanager's we've been dealing with from yesteryear ...

With any sense, return of the original STDP Senior Attorney Program and efficient movement of cases for the first time in years, etc., ...

Anonymous said...

P.S., WELCOME Special Prosecutor, Congressional Hearings, and finally holding Colvin, Garmon, et. al., and those responsible for misconduct, wrongdoing, including criminal, as well as waste, fraud and abuse fully Accountable ...

Anonymous said...

Better start looking for work now fellas after this election!

Anonymous said...

We called NOSSCR this morning. They'll be coming out with something soon. While they weren't all doom and gloom, they said to assume some changes will be coming. A lot will depend on if there is a new commissioner and what he/she depends to prioritize. Backlogs will continue to grow with no new funding. Will Republican congressmen come after attorney reps? That's the unknown fear.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully, the new regime will lift the rug out from under ODARs self-dealing insider. Daugherty, who was free to run his own show under Astrue and Sklar, was the most obvious - but what about all the promotions and bonuses that have been handed out to favorites who massaged the egos of those in power? maybe it will just be a new group coming in and doing the same thing, just different faces. Either way, how many will be sorry to see the current data-driven crowd go? Haven't they had their thumb pressing down on ODAR rank and file workers long enough?

Anonymous said...

Make no mistake, the new regime ultimately is working to abolish social security. Privatization is just the first step. America as we know it is headed towards an oligarchy with power in the hands of the rich. TPTB in the new regime could care less about disabled and retired folks.

Anonymous said...

@11:58

While it is true the new Republican dominated regime has historically pushed privatization for Social Security and some will continue to do so, the fact is the majority of Americans of all political persuasions have made it very clear to TPTB they do not want privatization of Social Security. Trump specifically told his supporters, many working class individuals who rely on social Security, he would not touch the benefits. If he were to not honor what he said, I am fairly certain there will be something akin to a revolt. So, while some ultra conservative right wing extremist Congressman will continue to banter the privatization issue during the next regime, I would be very surprised if it has any chance of going anywhere anytime soon. Social Security is sacrosanct to all but the wealthiest Americans, and the masses of all political persuasions have made it very clear.

As for the new regime, getting rid of Colvin and her ilk, such as Garmon, their inept management of the disability process, misconduct, including criminal, wrongdoing, massive cover ups, refusing to hold guilty officials like Garmon accountable and giving them sweet deals instead, favoritism and giving bonuses and promotions based on favoritism, and waste of taxpayer's money on such SES bonuses and placing an ODAR office near Garmon's home, the Disability components of SSA can only improve, because these God awful managers have succeeded in completely driving it into the ground and a sea of corruption. The only direction the Disability components of SSA can move is up.

Good riddance, to the current and very corrupt regime.

Anonymous said...

@12:21 Please provide concrete proof of the "corrupt regime" that I don't have to wear a tinfoil hat or admit that Bigfoot is real and out there.

You don't make billions in real estate development without corruption. If he is worth that, maybe now we will find out how much it owes to Russian banks.

Anonymous said...

Not 12:21, but just wondering: Does doling out a $30K bonus to someone like Pat Jonas in OAO seem corrupt? Or did she do something well above and beyond the expectations of her job to deserve that? Just curious because that bonus has never react been explained, and it's just one example.

Anonymous said...

What about the $60K bonus in 2014 to Gerald Ray? Any reason for that? It's public record people. Somebody said he went out and bought a Porsche or something?

Anonymous said...

There should be an OIG investigation on ALL management bonuses for the past 10 years plus a very healthy look at nepotism in the Agency, present and recent past.

Anonymous said...

ODAR / SSA bonus should have a paper trail [now electronic] that should be available in FOI requests?

Anonymous said...

@5:43

12:21 here. Got enough proof yet? On what Planet have you been living to be blinded by the extensive corruption in SSA/ODAR under Colvin's regime?

Apparently, you are not bothered by the huge SES bonuses given to favorites who repeatedly promote one another and pat each other on the back for doing little to nothing, (you are probably among this entourage) ...

You are apparently blind to the TV News Reports about powerful (former) Atlanta ROCALJ Ollie Garmon, III, the documented pattern of disabilty discrimination, and Prohibited Personnel Practices he engaged, which subjected targeted employees to unspeakable harassment in and outside the office using their coworkers as proxy to perpetuate the misconduct, which often got out of control and became criminal ... The targeted employees whose careers and lives were destroyed at his direction and control ... That Colvin, et. al., has literally bent over backwards to maintain her power as Agency Head at any cost just so she could coddle and protect Garmon and others involved from being held accountable, and give Garmon the sweet deal of an ODAR Office near his home, which is terribly inconvenient to everyone else ...

You must also be blind to the fact there are reasons Colvin was never confirmed SSA Commissioner, or renominated by the President ... The great lengths she went to force Eanes, the President's nominee in her stead out the door with no accountability ...
The massive COVER UPS of misconduct and wrongdoing by Colvin and her regime ...

You are apparently blind to the inept management of the Disability components of SSA, the massive backlog of cases, persistent and obstinate refusal to reinstate the original STDP Senior Attorney Program to reduce the backlog at the urging of retired and current employees who worked in that Program and know first hand how successful it was at reducing the backlog ... The failure of data analytics, production numbers/quotas and how they have demoralized the workforce ... And these are only the tip of the iceberg ...

Apparently, you are so blind to all of these things by the huge tinfoil hat you are wearing which covers your eyes that you must be one of the officials who is either part of the problem, or a "favorite" who has immensely benefited from this sea of corruption, e.g., promotions, huge bonuses, shielded from accountability, etc., ...

Try removing your tinfoil hat, returning to reality, and take a good look around SSA/ODAR as it exists outside the Ivory Tower in Falls Church ... Many of us non-managerial line workers are eagerly waiting to broaden your mind to the real world of SSA/ODAR ...

Anonymous said...

@9:22

As all great supporters of conspiracy theories, you are completely and totally incorrect. What I am is a simple social services provider. What you do and charge a fee for, I do for free. My annual salary is about $27,450 spread out between thirteen federal and state grants. What you moan and complain about is what I ignore to do the right thing for the right people at the right time. I also do it in Illinois where our state support and payment for aiding the aged and disabled was cut by 35% the last two years.

Yes I am blind. I cant look up from the faces of the people I assist. I have to get them medication, treatment, food, shelter. I have no time to worry who gets a bonus and who doesn't. Blind I am as I feel my way through an ever shrinking pool of resources and programs to provide simple oxygen when the utility company turns off the power. I cannot wear my tin foil hat, I recycled it to get office supplies to fight with doctors offices for records to support our claims.

Please feel free to roil about the system. Grab your lance and tilt every windmill. Just get the hell out of the way and let those of us who are doing something get back to work.

Anonymous said...

Oh and BTW you pompous spoon, because I am only trying to get those who need it the worst onto the roles, I have about 95% win rate, over 45% at initial and win 15 or so a year OTR. So a blind man can do what you do!

Anonymous said...

@11:02 & 11:14

You do not appear to have comprehended what 9:22 stated, as your comments in no way correlate with what 9:22 is saying. Perhaps you should carefully read 9:22's comment again, or have someone explain it to enable you to better understand what this individual said.

Anonymous said...

I don't have the time or the inclination to worry about who gets a bonus, who has a "cover up" and who is sleeping with Big Foot. Excuse me, my 11:00am just got here, since they cut the transportation services, appointments aren't on time. Maybe, I can get some help to get him some insulin today, maybe not.

Anonymous said...

I think it's rich that ol' SA27 over here is excited about cleaning out the top ranks of mgmt. You know immediately after that happens, maybe even before, Congressional Republicans are going to outlaw or at least seriously marginalize federal employee unions, right? How do you think employees will fare under any regime that doesn't have strong union protections? You may like better the new COSSA or your DC level person, but what do you think is going to happen to the RA process, hiring/promoting/etc. of minority groups of all types, etc. with a weakened or nonexistent AFGE/NTEU?

Anonymous said...

2:44 here again with a quick addendum

Trump will care somewhat about SSA's operations because so many of the American people and his supporters rely on SSA benefits of one kind or another. So he's going to not want the backlog to get significantly worse or for any of our other services to be delivered too poorly. But he isn't going to give us money, either. So that means production, production, production.

So let me ask again--how do you think his SSA is going to deal with long-term senior attorneys who've maybe slowed down some over the years because of conditions that need reasonable accommodations to allow for full performance? You think SSA is going to bend over backward protecting its (slower production-wise) employees with conditions and shepherd them fairly through this process, or you think it's going to ditch all the slow writers and hire on new ones that will pump out decisions?

Anonymous said...

Federal employees ironically do better under republican administrations- go back and review the history of cost of living increases for federal employees under republicans versus democrats.

Anonymous said...

@ 2:44 & 2:47

Charles, please allow me to respond since I was specifically targeted in these two comments.

"Ol SA-27" is only 56 years of age. She also has not slowed down. There is nothing wrong with her mind, ability to read, or process SSA Disability cases at the exceptional level she performed the job for many years, until she was forced to type all of her work rather than verbally transcribe it, as she had done, and the job performed, for years, and SSA/ODAR adamantly refused an RA allowing her to verbally transcribe, even though it would NEVER have placed an undue burden on the Agency. NEVER. To the contrary, there was an intentional, concerted effort orchestrated by Garmon, et. al., to not promote her while advancing those she helped hire and train with only a few years of Agency specific experience, and with far less production percentages over a shorter period of time than want she had produced over a period of many more years, which finally culminated in her being illegally forced out the door for no good reason. In the interim, SSA/ODAR fought against this RA request tooth and nail, and continues to do so to this very moment. The way you talk about SA 27 intimates you have no respect for the dignity of your employees or those with whom you work. This is disgusting. Clearly, you should NOT be involved in the adjudication of disabled claimants in any way. No one deserves to be treated in such a manner, and the way you denigrate SA 27 is uncalled for. The top SSA/ODAR management officials who engage in these illegal personnel practices; those who coddle and protect them from being held accountable; and favorites they have promoted, given huge bonuses, etc., as a quid pro quo, all deserve what is hopefully coming. For the record, I did not vote for Trump. However, my way of accepting the election results has everything to do with knowing many of the inept cronies who currently manage and run SSA/ODAR, especially Colvin, et. al., including Garmon, will be exiting. Good riddance.

Anonymous said...

@2:44/2:47 talks a good game about SSA/ODAR production within Republican dominated Executive and Legislature and the tight budgets they propose. What's interesting, is SSA/ODAR is far too top heavy - by leaps and bounds. Further, if those from GS-14 up through the SES, and beyond, actually had to work, i.e., write decisions, and meet production quotas day in and day out over a period of say 30 years, how many could even begin to do it? The million dollar question. My bet is NONE could do it.

Anonymous said...

yawn.....

Anonymous said...

@12:52

No, FACT ...

Anonymous said...

@9:31..."Better start looking for work now fellas after this election!"

Hip, hip hooray!
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