Mar 13, 2009

Furloughs In Oregon

From The Oregonian:

Social Security officials say Oregon's proposal to furlough state workers who handle the agency's disability applications will bog down an already slow claims process, harm sick and injured people and provide no savings to Oregonians.

In a letter to Gov. Ted Kulongoski this week, the Social Security Administration's regional commissioner, Donald Schoening, urged the governor to exempt Oregon's 192 Disability Determination Services employees from proposed furloughs. Schoening pointed out that Social Security pays the salaries and overhead -- more than $25 million a year -- for those state workers. ...

The governor acknowledges the Social Security Administration's "valid concerns," said Kulongoski spokeswoman Anna Richter Taylor, but the bulk of the furloughs are merely proposed.

Kulongoski proposes to furlough 177 rank-and-file Disability Determination Services employees for 24 days during the next two years, Taylor said. But those cuts, which would take place during the 2009-2011 budget years, are still being negotiated with the Service Employees International Union, which represents them.

"We are at the bargaining table," Taylor said. "This is early in the negotiations, so no decisions have been made."

The state has imposed furloughs on 15 managers in the disability claims program --one to four days, or a voluntary pay cut, from now until June 30.


Nancy Ortiz said...

Sounds like things are pretty tight in Oregon. They don't have a sales tax so a recession would certainly be a big whack in their revenue stream.

Here's a story that illustrates what can happen under these circumstances. At one point in the Bush admin in the 1980's, SSA had budget problems and the DDS's ended up short on DIB examiners, OT, you name it. The COSS was Dorcas Hardy, a privatization advocate (!). We couldn't come up as much money as the CA DDS Administrator (Linda McMahon) thought we should for the number of claims we had. It was a recession, and the volume of DIB claims doubled in less than 2 years and workloads were horrendous.

So, McMahon decided not to process the claims. They just receipted 'em in and they sat on a shelf until they could get to 'em. In six months, we had about 2 yrs. worth of claims sitting in DDS going nowhere. Then, the incumbent governor lost the election and McMahon lost her state job.

The Bush admin. dumped Hardy and installed Gwen King who promptly gave McMahon the Region IX RC job when it came vacant. Then, it took us almost 3 years to clean up the backlog. Moral: Oregon FO's are going to have problems, but it could be worse.

Anonymous said...

As far as I am concerned, the entire disability program needs to be scrapped and go back to a retirement only plan. We could likely then drop the retirement age to 60 early at reduced benefits and full at 65. (I leave it to actuaries to figure this out). The Fed gov't should then institute a negative income tax to pay subsitance benefits to any citizen who does no want to work or "can't" work and has no source of income or resources of ANY kind. There will be no more DDSs, ODAR and most of the giant bureauacracy at the Central Office & Regional offices can be shut down. The SS program will be saved for it's original purpose. I guess it would also put a lot of you lawyers out of work, but thats the breaks.