Jul 13, 2020

They're Baaaaack!

     From WSB in Atlanta:
The Social Security Administration is demanding a Georgia woman should have to pay for a government mistake the agency made more than four decades ago. ...

Ginger Snowden was just 14 years old back in the 1970s when the SSA now says it mistakenly overpaid her father social security benefits.

Now, long after his death, the federal government wants her to pay back the money.

Federal officials are standing by the claim, telling [WSB] that they have a legal right to demand payment. ...

The alleged overpayments to Snowden's father -- nearly $3,000 -- were from 1973 when she was still a child.

"It was like, 'How can you collect money from me?'" Snowden said. "I just kept saying over and over again that I was 14 years old."

According to officials, Snowden lived in the same house with her father at the time, and therefore received some benefit from the money.

The Snowdens are not alone. ...

Back in 2014, Senator Chuck Grassley sent a letter blasting the Social Security Administration for going after decades-old overpayments, writing, "The actions raise serious questions about whether it is collecting debt properly or fairly."

After the criticism, the Social Security Administration temporarily stopped those controversial collection efforts.

But now, the SSA tells [WSB]: "Our review found we correctly applied the law and our regulations, policies and procedures.

In 2018, they say the once again started attempting to collect the old debts. ...

Jul 12, 2020

Do Not Fold, Spindle Or Mutilate

How many are now familiar with that once familiar phrase, “Do not fold, spindle or mutilate”?

Jul 11, 2020

Political Appointments At Social Security

     One of the items that Social Security recently posted is a list of Non-Career Senior Executive Service employees as of last September. See below. Somebody can correct me if I'm wrong but I believe these are the political appointments at Social Security that's don't require Senate confirmation.
     By the way, I had posted about Mr. Sliwka before. I didn't realize he was a political. At least nominally, he's the person in charge of Covid-19 preparedness. You never know about politicals, though, particularly in the Trump Administration.

Jul 10, 2020

Draft Bill Gives Little New Funding To SSA But Does Protect ALJs

     From a press release:
The House Appropriations Committee today released the draft fiscal year 2021 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) funding bill, which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. The legislation includes funding for programs within the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and other related agencies, including the Social Security Administration. ...
$13 billion for the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) operating expenses, with an increase of $100 million above the FY 2020 enacted level to hire additional staff at field offices, teleservice and processing centers and improve public services. ...
  • Continuing Disability Reviews—The bill includes a new provision prohibiting the Social Security Administration from finalizing or implementing a new rule that would significantly increase the number and frequency of CDRs, cutting benefits to Social Security and SSI disabled beneficiaries.   
  • Administrative Law Judges—The bill includes a new provision prohibiting the Social Security Administration from finalizing or implementing a proposed rule that would replace an individual’s right to appeal their denied application for Social Security or SSI benefits before an independent Administrative Law Judges at a hearing, with an appeal before an SSA staff attorney.
     Note that $100 million is less than 1% of the budget. Even in a time of recession, this may not be enough to cover inflation. I don't this this would lead to any new hiring.

Kiosks Coming To Field Offices

     From a Request For Information recently posted by the Social Security Administration:

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is improving its field office kiosk technology for visitors to check-in and perform simple self-help services.  We seek a solution easily usable by all members of the public that visit our field offices and accessible to people with a disability.  The kiosks will be:

  • Standalone, enclosed units
  • Ruggedized for use in semi-supervised locations 
  • Zero client based systems
  • USB attached peripheral devices installed inside the kiosk cabinet 
  • Meet agency accessibility and usability requirements

The agency will design and host the software on its own infrastructure.  This includes software accessibility features that rely on hardware components.  For instance, the software is designed to start a screen reader when a user inserts a headphone jack into the kiosk and this will require headphone jack sockets that include a tip switch that detects the insertion and removal of a headphone jack.

The government provided software for the check-in kiosk is nearly complete. We have an immediate need to install several hundred to a couple thousand check-in kiosks within 12-18 months. 

Because the check-in kiosk solution needs to be deployed in the near future, we are interested in cabinet designs that are already “on the shelf” and will require little modification.  If costs and timelines are not impacted, we may consider a custom cabinet design.