Apr 24, 2007

When To Expect News From Commissioner Astrue

Clearly, Commissioner Astrue is working on some plan to address Social Security's hearing backlog situation. When can we expect this? Here are the clues I have heard.

Astrue's confirmation hearing was on January 24, 2007. At the time, he was asked how soon he would be able to come back for another hearing to talk about his plans for Social Security's backlogs. He said three months. I do not think it was ever specified whether this was three months from that date or three months after the date he assumed office -- which was February 12.

On February 14 Astrue appeared before the Social Security Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee. They clearly wanted to hear from him again soon, although no time frame was mentioned.

Representatives of the National Council of Social Security Management Associations (NCSSMA) met with Astrue on March 1. At the time, he told them that Congress expected him to report back to them with ideas by April 15.

Nancy Shor, the executive director of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR) said at the NOSSCR Conference last week that she had met with the Commissioner the week before and that he had talked about having some plan within a week -- which would have been last week, if you are following the timeline in this sentence..

Lisa DeSoto, the head of Social Security's Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) mentioned at the NOSSCR conference that she expected Commissioner Astrue to have a plan within a couple of weeks, which would mean next week.

Thus far, neither the Senate Finance Committee nor the House Social Security Subcommittee has scheduled another appearance for Astrue. However, it appears that we should expect each to be scheduling a hearing soon, almost certainly before the middle of May. That is when Astrue is likely to unveil his plan. However, if you want to see a preview, take a look below at my summary of the highlights from the NOSSCR conference. I will give more detailed summaries from that conference when I have time.

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