Jun 29, 2017

Effects Of Focused Reviews Of ALJs

     In 2012, Social Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG) did a study on 24 of the agency's Administrative Law Judges (ALJs). Twelve had the agency's highest allowance rates for disability claims and twelve had the lowest. OIG has now gone back to look at what happened. Here's the result:
... The majority of the 24 ALJs from our first review were no longer among the ALJs with the highest and lowest allowance rates in FY 2016 because their allowance rates changed or they were no longer judges. Social Security Administration (SSA) data for FY 2016 indicated 
  • 6 were still among the ALJs with the highest and lowest allowance rates, 
  • 1 had been on administrative leave since 2014 following several reviews by the Agency, 
  • 1 had become a senior attorney, 
  • 7 were no longer among the ALJs with the highest or lowest allowance rates, and 
  • 9 were no longer with the Agency. 
Of these 24 ALJs, the Agency had conducted focused reviews on 10. Further, 7 of the 10 ALJs who had a focused review were no longer among the ALJs with the highest or lowest allowance rates or had since left the Agency....
      The report omits information that would show which group -- high allowers or low allowers -- was most affected by the focused reviews. In fact, were any low allowing ALJs selected for focused review? I'm under the impression that the agency does not regard low allowing ALJs as a problem.
     Whether intended or not, the report notes that the allowance rate for all ALJs declined from 67% in 2012 to 55% in 2016.

In Today's Eric Conn News

     A documentary filmmaker will soon start work on the life of Eric Conn.

Jun 28, 2017

Headcount Continues To Decline

      The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has posted updated figures for the number of employees at the Social Security Administration -- and the downward trend continues:
  • March 2017 62,183
  • December 2016 63,364
  • September 2016 64,394 
  • December 2015 65,518
  • September 2015 65,717
  • June 2015 65,666
  • March 2015 64,432
  • December 2014 65,430
  • September 2014 64,684
  • June 2014 62,651
  • March 2014 60,820
  • December 2013 61,957
  • September 2013 62,543
  • December 2012 64,538
  • September 2012 65,113
  • September 2011 67,136
  • December 2010 70,270
  • December 2009 67,486
  • September 2009 67,632
  • December 2008 63,733
  • September 2008 63,990

Jun 27, 2017

It Keeps Getting Weirder

     Ned Pillersdorf is an attorney who lives and practices in the same area of Kentucky where Eric Conn used to live and practice but Pillersdorf is no friend of Eric Conn. He brought a class action lawsuit against Conn on behalf of Conn's former clients. He's also brought a class action lawsuit against Social Security on behalf of Conn's former clients whose benefits have been and are being cut off. Nevertheless, Eric Conn has decided to communicate with Pillersdorf. See below for a fax, apparently from Conn, received recently by Pillersdorf. Click on the image below to see it full size.

Jun 26, 2017

Misdirection Indeed

      From the Associated Press:
A fugitive Kentucky lawyer at the center of a nearly $600 million Social Security fraud case has fled the country using a fake passport and has gotten help from someone overseas with a job to help support himself.

The flamboyant disability lawyer Eric Conn, in an email exchange with The Lexington Herald-Leader over the weekend, told the paper he flew to a country that does not have an extradition agreement with the U.S.
The paper reported Sunday that it tried to verify Conn's identity by asking him questions that only he could answer, including his Social Security number, which it obtained from court documents, and details about one of his marriages. He answered correctly, the paper said. ...
He surrendered his passport in April 2016 after being indicted. An accomplice outside the country obtained a fake passport for him, an email said.
Conn said the day after cutting off the monitor he used the passport to fly out of the U.S.
He made a reference in one email to being on another continent but did not say which.
Conn said he boarded a commercial flight without any significant problems but did not say where he caught the flight.
He did say he worked to misdirect authorities. For example, Conn said he used his credit card to buy a ticket to fly out of John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. He said however that he never intended to go there because of the likelihood the FBI was monitoring his transactions.
He used a different, pre-paid credit card to buy a second ticket and used that one to leave the country, he said. ...

Jun 25, 2017

But It Makes For Good Sound Bites

     From the Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), the umbrella group for American organizations helping the disabled:
Legislative proposals such as H.R. 2792 would bar payment of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to people with an outstanding arrest warrant for an alleged felony or for an alleged violation of probation or parole. This would revive an old, failed policy that had catastrophic effects for many people with disabilities and seniors, employing procedures that did not withstand judicial scrutiny. 
Does NOT Help Law Enforcement Secure Arrests 
The Social Security Act already prohibits payments to people fleeing from law enforcement to avoid prosecution or imprisonment. The Social Security Administration (SSA) currently notifies law enforcement of the whereabouts of every person with a warrant for an alleged felony or an alleged violation of probation or parole who turns up in SSA’s databases. This bill would not change these policies and procedures. 
Cuts Off Social Security, SSI for Hundreds of Thousands of People Whom Law Enforcement is Not Pursuing 
Based on prior experience with SSA’s failed former policy, the people who would be affected are those whose cases are inactive and whom law enforcement is not pursuing. 
  Most of the warrants in question are decades old and involve minor infractions, including warrants routinely issued when a person was unable to pay a fine or court fee, or a probation supervision fee. 
  Many people are not even aware that a warrant was issued for them, as warrants are often not served on the individual. 
  Some people will be swept up as a result of mistaken identity, or paperwork errors, which can take months or even years to resolve. 
Impact of Cuts would be Severe 
Resolving these warrants can be extremely hard and costly: people often must go before a judge in the issuing jurisdiction, and typically need counsel to assist them in navigating the process. Often, people have moved in the intervening years and live far from the issuing jurisdiction. Cutting off benefits will not help resolve the warrant. 
  Social Security and SSI provide the only source of personal income for over one in three beneficiaries. Losing this income will cause many people to become homeless and unable to meet their basic needs much less, resolve a warrant. 
  A very high percentage of people who would lose benefits have mental illness or intellectual disability. Many are unaware of the violation, may not have understood the terms of parole or probation, or may have other misunderstandings about their case. 

Jun 24, 2017

Congressional Hearing Scheduled

     From a press release:
House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Vern Buchanan (R-FL) announced today that the Subcommittee s will hold a joint hearing, entitled “Complexities and Challenges of Social Security Coverage and Payroll Tax Compliance for State and Local Governments.” Section 218 of the Social Security Act allows state and local governments to extend Social Security coverage to their employees through a voluntary agreement with the Social Security Administration. The hearing will focus on the complexity of Social Security coverage and payroll tax compliance under Section 218. Members will also discuss the responsibilities of the Social Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, and State Social Security Administrators in ensuring proper administration. The hearing will take place on Thursday, June 29, 2017 in 1100 Longworth House Office Building, beginning at 10:00 AM.

Jun 23, 2017

Fraud Story From South Florida

     From the Christian Science Monitor (a newspaper with a distinguished history but I'm surprised it's still around):
In December 2009, the Iowa Republican demanded to know how a Miami psychiatrist was writing more than 96,000 prescriptions for Medicaid patients. It was nearly twice the number of the second highest prescriber in Florida.
The psychiatrist, Dr. Fernando Mendez-Villamil, responded with a tartly worded message of his own. “I never thought I would be faulted for working hard or for being very organized and efficient,” he wrote the senator. ...
Even after Dr. Mendez-Villamil was kicked out of Medicaid and barred from Medicare, he continued to operate an elaborate network of bribes, kickbacks, and payoffs that helped hundreds of fake patients fraudulently obtain Social Security disability payments. ...
Through a check of pharmaceutical records, Crespo [the detective investigating the case] discovered that the doctor was prescribing large amounts of quetiapine, a drug approved to treat psychiatric patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It is sold commercially under the name Seroquel.
According to federal agents, there is a well-established black market in quetiapine, with street names including “jailhouse heroin,” and “Susie Q.” ...
Crespo found that many of Mendez-Villamil’s patients were receiving Social Security disability payments. The doctor had provided the medical assessments necessary to verify that his patients’ mental conditions rendered them completely disabled. Acting on those medical assessments, the Social Security Administration had awarded a large number of his patients full disability benefits. ...
Crespo estimates that Mendez-Villamil helped 3,500 to 3,800 individuals fraudulently obtain Social Security disability payments. “At one point he was disabling up to 10 people a week,” the agent says.
For $1,500 to $3,500 in cash, Mendez-Villamil would falsely diagnose anyone as having a severe mental disorder that would qualify him or her to receive Social Security disability payments. ...
Once the payment was received, the doctor’s staff prepared a patient file that was typically back-dated a year or more to show the condition was chronic and to create a fake paper trail purporting to document a prolonged period of medical treatment, according to court documents.
“It was just straight back-dating, you come in today and I started treating you last year,” the agent says. ...
Crespo wasn’t the only government official concerned about Mendez-Villamil. “I had administrative law judges calling me and telling me this guy is a crook,” the agent says. ...
Confronted with the fruit of Crespo’s detailed investigation, Mendez-Villamil pleaded guilty to health-care fraud in May 2016. He agreed to pay the government $50.7 million in restitution. He is serving a 12-½ year sentence in federal prison and has surrendered his medical license.
According to a statement signed by Mendez-Villamil as part of his guilty plea, the psychiatrist’s false diagnoses caused Social Security to make $20.3 million in undeserved disability payments to various “patients” between 2002 and January 2016. ...
With Mendez-Villamil behind bars, the question remains: What about all those patients fraudulently receiving Social Security disability payments?
“A lot of them are now off the rolls and are starting to pay the government back,” Crespo says. ...
     I have a few thoughts. First, I've never before heard of Seroquel abuse. Apparently, it is a thing but I don't think it's a big thing. One thing that kept this going was that the doctor apparently avoided prescribing opioids or benzodiazepines. Large numbers of prescriptions for those drugs, which have important medical uses but which are commonly abused, would have been a red flag that would have more quickly brought down this doctor. Second, where was Florida Disability Determination Services (DDS)? They make determinations at the initial and reconsideration levels on Social Security disability claims. They should have been the first to ask questions about what this doctor was doing. I'm glad to see that ALJs were raising a red flag. Third, I've been representing Social Security disability claimants since 1979 and I've never seen anything like what this physician was doing. I've seen at least a couple of cases where it seemed obvious that a physician was operating a Medicaid mill and was probably involved in Medicaid fraud but there was no Social Security involvement. I know that both of those physicians were investigated repeatedly. I never had any information on them that would have helped an investigator. Reports from these physicians were almost completely useless in proving disability. Their office notes were mostly illegible scribbles. If you're running a Medicaid mill, you don't take the time to create real office notes. Even if the notes had been legible, ALJs knew not to trust anything these physicians said. I routinely advised clients who were seeing these physicians to change doctors.

Jun 22, 2017

Attempting To Defraud Former Clients Of Eric Conn

    A press release:
Gale Stallworth Stone, the Acting Inspector General of Social Security, is warning citizens about a phone scheme allegedly targeting former clients of Kentucky disability attorney Eric C. Conn.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) and its Office of the Inspector General (OIG) have received reports that Kentucky citizens who used Conn’s law firm to assist with applying for Social Security disability benefits have recently received suspicious calls from people claiming to be from SSA. 
According to reports, the callers claim to be from SSA and offer citizens $9,000 from a “Conn Client Compensation Fund” if the citizens send $200 to the “Federal Reserve Bank of New York.”  The number associated with these calls is 202-681-5115.  Those who have sent money have received additional calls; some callers report that citizens can receive greater compensation amounts if they send more money, while others threaten that citizens will be arrested if they do not send additional funds. 
The Acting Inspector General is alerting citizens that SSA personnel are not making these calls, and the compensation fund described in the calls does not exist.

Jun 21, 2017

The Time To Act Is Now

     The U.S. Senate will soon take up the Republican healthcare bill. Call it Trumpcare if you will. The current plan is that the text of the bill will only be announced next week and the Senate will vote on the bill a couple of days later. There will only be a limited debate. Senators will not have the ability to offer amendments. 
     The bill is expected to be similar to the bill passed earlier in the House of Representatives. That bill would have the effect of increasing the number of uninsured Americans by 24 million. Health care premiums would go up dramatically for those who are older or who have preexisting conditions.    







      Rumor has it that the Senate version of Trumpcare will include dramatic cuts in Medicaid. Do not think that you would be unaffected by Medicaid cuts. Medicaid pays for most long term care. Most Americans don't have the resources to pay for nursing home care for themselves or their parents. You or your elderly relatives are likely to depend upon Medicaid at some point in your life -- assuming Medicaid will still be able to pay for this coverage.
     It is not too early to start telling your Senators what you think about this bill and about the process that the Republican leadership is following. It will soon be too late.
     It is especially important to contact Republican Senators. The Republican majority in the Senate is slim. They can only afford to lose two Senators. 
     Below is contact information for all Senators, sorted by state. Call, write, fax, e-mail. Do it now while you can.
     If you are a government employee, you have every right to contact your Senator. Just don't do it from your office!

Murkowski, Lisa - (R - AK)

522 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6665

Sullivan, Dan - (R - AK)

702 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3004


304 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5744

Strange, Luther - (R - AL)

326 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4124

Boozman, John - (R - AR)

141 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4843

Cotton, Tom - (R - AR)

124 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2353

Flake, Jeff - (R - AZ)

413 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4521

McCain, John - (R - AZ)

218 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2235

Feinstein, Dianne - (D - CA)
331 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3841

Harris, Kamala D. - (D - CA)

112 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3553


261 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5852

Gardner, Cory - (R - CO)

354 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5941


706 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2823

136 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4041

Carper, Thomas R. - (D - DE)

513 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2441


127A Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5042

Nelson, Bill - (D - FL)

716 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5274

Rubio, Marco - (R - FL)

284 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3041

Isakson, Johnny - (R - GA)

131 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3643

Perdue, David - (R - GA)
455 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3521

Hirono, Mazie K. - (D - HI)
730 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6361

Schatz, Brian - (D - HI)

722 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3934

Ernst, Joni - (R - IA)

111 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3254

Grassley, Chuck - (R - IA)

135 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3744

Crapo, Mike - (R - ID)

239 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6142

Risch, James E. - (R - ID)

483 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2752

Duckworth, Tammy - (D - IL)

524 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2854


711 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2152

Donnelly, Joe - (D - IN)

720 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4814

Young, Todd - (R - IN)

400 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5623

Moran, Jerry - (R - KS)

521 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6521

Roberts, Pat - (R - KS)

109 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4774

McConnell, Mitch - (R - KY)

317 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2541

Paul, Rand - (R - KY)

167 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4343

Cassidy, Bill - (R - LA)

520 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5824

Kennedy, John - (R - LA)

383 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4623

Markey, Edward J. - (D - MA)

255 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2742

Warren, Elizabeth - (D - MA)

317 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4543


509 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4524

Van Hollen, Chris - (D - MD)

110 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4654

Collins, Susan M. - (R - ME)

413 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2523


133 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5344

Peters, Gary C. - (D - MI)
724 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6221

Stabenow, Debbie - (D - MI)

731 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4822

Franken, Al - (D - MN)

309 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5641

Klobuchar, Amy - (D - MN)

302 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3244

Blunt, Roy - (R - MO)

260 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5721

McCaskill, Claire - (D - MO)

503 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6154

Cochran, Thad - (R - MS)

113 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5054

Wicker, Roger F. - (R - MS)
555 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6253

Daines, Steve - (R - MT)

320 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2651

Tester, Jon - (D - MT)
311 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2644

Burr, Richard - (R - NC)

217 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3154

Tillis, Thom - (R - NC)

185 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6342

Heitkamp, Heidi - (D - ND)

516 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2043

Hoeven, John - (R - ND)

338 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2551

Fischer, Deb - (R - NE)

454 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6551

Sasse, Ben - (R - NE)

136 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4224


330 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3324

Shaheen, Jeanne - (D - NH)

506 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2841

Booker, Cory A. - (D - NJ)

359 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3224

Menendez, Robert - (D - NJ)

528 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4744

Heinrich, Martin - (D - NM)

303 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5521

Udall, Tom - (D - NM)

531 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6621


204 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3542

Heller, Dean - (R - NV)

324 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6244


478 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4451


322 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6542

Brown, Sherrod - (D - OH)

713 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2315

Portman, Rob - (R - OH)

448 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3353

Inhofe, James M. - (R - OK)

205 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4721

Lankford, James - (R - OK)

316 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5754

Merkley, Jeff - (D - OR)

313 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3753

Wyden, Ron - (D - OR)

221 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5244


393 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6324


248 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4254

Reed, Jack - (D - RI)

728 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4642

530 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2921

Graham, Lindsey - (R - SC)

290 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5972

Scott, Tim - (R - SC)

717 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6121

Rounds, Mike - (R - SD)

502 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5842

Thune, John - (R - SD)

511 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2321

Alexander, Lamar - (R - TN)

455 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4944

Corker, Bob - (R - TN)

425 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3344

Cornyn, John - (R - TX)

517 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2934

Cruz, Ted - (R - TX)

404 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5922

Hatch, Orrin G. - (R - UT)

104 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5251

Lee, Mike - (R - UT)

361A Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5444

Kaine, Tim - (D - VA)

231 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4024

Warner, Mark R. - (D - VA)

703 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2023

Leahy, Patrick J. - (D - VT)

437 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4242

Sanders, Bernard - (I - VT)

332 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5141

Cantwell, Maria - (D - WA)

511 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3441

Murray, Patty - (D - WA)

154 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2621

Baldwin, Tammy - (D - WI)

709 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5653

Johnson, Ron - (R - WI)

328 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5323


172 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6472

Manchin, Joe, III - (D - WV)

306 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3954

Barrasso, John - (R - WY)

307 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6441

Enzi, Michael B. - (R - WY)

379A Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3424

Jun 20, 2017

Conn Now Accused Of Car Theft

     From WKYT:
In its hunt for Eric C. Conn, the FBI questioned numerous people Monday about what they might know about the Floyd County lawyer's run from the law.

Officials in Floyd County also confirmed to WYMT on Monday that Conn is now accused of stealing a car owned by the mother of his daughter. FBI agents agents would not confirm whether they thought Conn may be in the stolen vehicle. ...
In a news briefing in Louisville last week, agents say they believe a doctor accused of being Conn's accomplice in bilking the government of millions of dollars helped him flee. ...

Think You'll Delay Taking Social Security To Age 70?

From the Motley Fool

Jun 19, 2017

I Don't Know About This Study

     From the Washington Center for Equitable Growth:
The paper, by economists Manasi Deshpande of the University of Chicago and Yue Li of the University at Albany, State University of New York, looks at how the closure of Social Security field offices affects how many people apply for disability programs and the changes in the kinds of people who apply for the program. Using administrative data from the Social Security Administration, the authors can see what happened to SSDI applications and the number of SSDI recipients in ZIP codes closest to the closed offices. ...
What actually happened when the closest Social Security field offices closed and the cost [meaning inconvenience] of applying increased? The number of applications dropped quite a bit, 11 percent after a few quarters, and stayed at that lower level. At the same time, the number of recipients of disability insurance in ZIP codes near the closed field offices dropped 13 percent and also remained low. The fact that the number of recipients dropped more than the number of applicants—the difference is statistically significant—means that the people not applying were more likely to have been accepted if they had applied. Deshpande and Li also find that the field office closings discouraged people with lower education levels and low earnings levels from applying. ...
     I don't know about this study. Most disability claims are filed over the telephone which reduces the importance of proximity to a field office. If the "cost" -- basically hassle factor -- of applying goes up and it has generally, I expect those most likely to have been deterred from filing claims are those who suffering from depression. It's a struggle to do anything when you're depressed. I think these authors should have talked with some people involved in the process. Economics explains a lot of things but not everything.

Jun 18, 2017

"I've Never Had Such A Hard Time Giving Back Money"

     From KUTV:
Sue Brandon got a huge surprise when she checked her bank account one day. She had received a Social Security deposit of $13,098.
The massive amount is a far cry from the $4 per month increase that the Social Security Administration had told her she would be getting after her husband passed away.
“I called them and said, ‘Hey, something's wrong because there's no way you can owe me this $13,000,’” she said. ...
Brandon said she called the Social Security office over and over again but was repeatedly old they couldn’t get to the bottom of it.
The Brandon said one of the SSA employees snapped at her: “I don't know what to tell you anymore. Call your congressman.” ...
"I've never had such a hard time giving back money,” she said. ...
      I think I've posted before about the problem I and other attorneys sometimes have when an attorney fee is overpaid. We issue a check refunding the money to Social Security but the agency immediately issues another check in the same amount. I recently talked with another attorney who was refunding the same fee overpayment for the fourth time!

Jun 17, 2017

Eric Conn "Better Surrender Before Monday"

     From the Lexington Herald-Dispatch:
... Scott White, Conn's attorney, repeated his call for Conn to surrender to authorities, and said the FBI was "ramping up" efforts to capture him. 
"That could well mean that he is about to be charged with a separate crime," White said in an email Friday. "And if that happens, my ability to restrict the consequences to a bond violation is seriously jeopardized. In that case, the number of years he is facing in prison will dramatically increase. In other words, it sounds like he better surrender before Monday." ...