Oct 23, 2018

Remember That Anyone Approved For SSI Is Desperately Poor

     Below is a note in my firm's database concerning a telephone conversation with a client whose claim for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) was recently approved. We had told him to contact the District Office (DO) since it had been a couple of weeks since he had been approved and the DO had not yet contacted him to begin processing him onto benefits, as would be normal:
DO told him it would be 60 days from when he received his decision before he hears from them - So not to expect to hear from them until ~ Nov 20th.

Oct 19, 2018

All Part Of The Plan

     From Paul Krugman’s column in the New York Times:
When the Trump tax cut was on the verge of being enacted, I called it “the biggest tax scam in history,” and made a prediction: deficits would soar, and when they did, Republicans would once again pretend to care about debt and demand cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. 
Sure enough, the deficit is soaring. And this week Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, after declaring the surge in red ink “very disturbing,” called for, you guessed it, cuts in “Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.” He also suggested that Republicans might repeal the Affordable Care Act — taking away health care from tens of millions — if they do well in the midterm elections. 
Any political analyst who didn’t see this coming should find a different profession. After all, “starve the beast” — cut taxes on the rich, then use the resulting deficits as an excuse to hack away at the safety net — has been G.O.P. strategy for decades. ...

Oct 18, 2018

DOT Replacement Coming Soon?

     The National Association of Disability Examiners (NADE) has posted its most recent newsletter. NADE members make determinations on disability claims for Social Security at the initial and reconsideration level. Here’s an excerpt from a write up on a talk by Gina Clemons, Social Security’s Associate Commissioner for Disability Policy:
... Gina also updated the NADE audience on work underway in the agency’s Vocational Regulations Modernization (VRM) and Occupational Information Systems (OIS) projects. These companion projects have been ongoing for several years. Key to the OIS project is an ongoing effort (since 2012) with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to collect updated occupational information through the Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) that we will use in adjudication. The good news here is that, after three years of testing and three years of data collection, BLS will publish a complete data set documenting requirements of work in the U.S. economy sometime this winter. BLS is committed to regularly updating occupational information moving forward on a 5-year refresh cycle and has already started collecting updated occupational data to refresh the ORS data set by 2024. BLS will document some of the basic mental demands of jobs in the 2024 ORS refreshed data.
The ORS data set will replace the Dictionary of Occupational Titles in adjudication. SSA has adopted an evidence-based, data-driven approach to modernizing the vocational regulations. The scope of the VRM project includes policy considerations in step 4 and 5 of the sequential evaluation process. Gina explained that several internal teams involving representatives from across SSA have been working on policy development for VRM.


Oct 17, 2018

Positions Of The Two Parties On Social Security

     The New York Times summarizes the positions of the two major parties on Social Security as we approach an election. Simply put, Democrats want to enhance Social Security and Republicans want to cut it. Given the extent to which Americans rely upon Social Security, it’s hard to comprehend why voters haven’t emphatically rejected the Republican Party.

Oct 16, 2018

Received Appointed For Conn Files

     A receiver has finally been appointed to handle the thousands of case files left behind by Eric Conn. No one knows how long it will be before his former clients get access to their files. Hearings are ongoing in these cases. From what I've seen and heard, Administrative Law Judges have been told to barge forward and wait for almost nothing, including these files which may contain medical evidence. Of course, there are hundreds of Conn's clients who have already lost benefits who never knew that these files still existed.

Oct 15, 2018

Going Backwards

     Below is a summary of the 2019 Fiscal Year (FY) appropriation for Social Security recently signed into law. FY 2019 began on October 1 of this year. This was obtained by the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR) and published in their newsletter (which isn't available to the public online). Click on the image to view full size.
     Remember that because of inflation a flat appropriation means the agency is losing ground.