Nov 30, 2010

The Third Way Looks A Lot Like The Second Way

From Bloomburg:

A Democratic-led policy group is defying party history by proposing changes to Social Security to pave the way for recommendations this week by President Barack Obama’s deficit-cutting commission.

Washington-based Third Way said its plan would raise the retirement age, trim or eliminate Social Security benefits for high-income retirees, limit cost-of-living increases and provide money to help young workers create private retirement accounts.

The proposal, to be released after the presidential panel is due to issue its report tomorrow, is timed to help create a buffer for congressional Democrats to support politically unpopular deficit-trimming measures, said Third Way spokesman Sean Gibbons. ...

The chairman of the group’s board of trustees is John L. Vogelstein, former president of private-equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC, and the vice-chairman is David Heller, global co- leader of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s securities division. ...

Social Security benefits would be reduced on a scale starting at individuals with $150,000 in outside income and couples with $250,000, and eliminated for individuals earning $200,000 and couples with $400,000 in income. ...

Even the AARP senior citizens’ group that’s long fought benefit cuts appears to be open to at least some cutbacks. John Rother, executive vice president for policy at the senior citizens’ group AARP, praised the Bipartisan Policy Center plan.

“It’s more politically realistic” than the Obama panel’s draft and “in general I would characterize this as a more centrist approach,” said Rother.

The basic premise of Social Security is that it is an insurance program. Republicans have never accepted that Social Security is an insurance program. They have always seen it as "welfare" program which must be phased out. Accepting any form of means testing in Title II of the Social Security Act would be to accept the Republican view of Social Security and would start a process that would destroy Social Security in the long run. This is a litmus test issue. If you believe that means testing of Social Security is appropriate, you believe that the fundamental premise of Social Security is a myth, which means that you just might be a Republican. Unless the Democratic Party has completely lost its mooring, this is going nowhere.

Where We Rank

The report of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report concerning disability programs around the world also includes a chart showing where the United States ranks in relationship to other countries around the world in the rate of disability benefits recipiency. See the chart below. Click on it to see it full size.

Note that we have a higher incidence of disability benefits recipients than many European countries. The fact that the full retirement age in the U.S. is higher than in most, if not all of Europe has to contribute to this. Otherwise, your explanation may depend upon your politics. I think that it has a lot to do with our poor health care system. A large part of our population is at enormous risk because they do not receive even basic medical care. Untreated diseases such as hypertension cause much disability in this country.

Nov 29, 2010

Hearing Office Chief ALJ Not Concerned By Threats

From the Akron Beacon Journal:
Judge Thomas A. Ciccolini is not a man easily shaken.

As chief administrative law judge in Akron's new Social Security disability claims office in the heart of downtown, he reacts with calm assurance to the news out of Washington that judges who hear these cases are facing an increasing number of threats from people who are denied benefits, or must wait a year (or more) for the case to be decided. ...

''I practiced law in Akron for 31 years. I did nothing but criminal work, so I know courtrooms can become volatile,'' Ciccolini said. ...

As the chief Social Security hearing officer in Cleveland, where he heard disability cases for seven years before assuming the lead position in Akron, he said he actually had a guard stationed in his hearing room on only a couple of occasions.

''I have conducted thousands of hearings in my seven years and cannot recall any violent incidents. Obviously, there is somewhere in the country that this has happened,'' Ciccolini said, ''but it just hasn't happened in this area.''

By the way, if you do not know what Social Security's hearing rooms look like, take a look at the picture above. Note that the room is not large or fancy and that it includes a large television screen with a small television camera attached to the bottom of the screen. The table in front of the judge has at least one computer monitor on it. The desk in front of the judge probably has another computer monitor on it just off camera.

Nov 28, 2010

A Little Help Please

For many years I have maintained that there is little or no proof that there is a significant link between rates of unemployment and the rates of disability claims. Common wisdom is to the contrary. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has released a report dealing with disability benefits around the world. Take a look at this chart (click on it to view it full size).

Could someone show me on this chart some evidence of a relationship between disability claims and unemployment?

Nov 27, 2010

Can Anyone Explain This?

From the Washington Post:
The government should create incentives for employers to retain disabled workers on their payrolls as a way of slowing unsustainable increases in the number of people receiving Social Security disability benefits, according to a new report.

Adding a "front end" of benefits to keep the disabled in their jobs could arrest the rapidly growing expense of the federal disability program, a problem that has largely escaped the scrutiny of policymakers, according to the report's authors at the Brookings Institution's Hamilton Project and the left-leaning Center for American Progress.

Their proposal would require workers and employers to share the cost of a modest private disability insurance package, which is between $150 and $250 a year, according to the report, which is to be officially unveiled at a Dec. 3 event in Washington.

Workers seeking to go onto the federal disability program would first have to be approved for benefits from the private policy. Those benefits would go toward rehabilitation services, partial income support and other related services, the researchers said....

David Autor, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher who co-authored the study, acknowledged that the overall proposal would likely face huge hurdles in a political environment that is growing increasingly hostile to new government mandates.

$150 to $250 a year for private disability insurance? Turning over disability determination to private insurers who get to pocket anything they do not have to pay out? Rehab services to enable all those people with degenerative diseases to return to work?

What could possibly go wrong?

Nov 26, 2010

5th Anniversary

Social Security News is now five years old. I have made well over 4,000 posts. I have no idea how much time I have put in on it. I know that I have gotten a good deal of satisfaction out of it. I hope that my readers have found this blog useful.

Nov 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

And to continue in a classic mode, read Art Buchwald's classic explanation of Le jour de Merci Donnant.

Nov 24, 2010

Something To Be Thankful For

I was able to use Social Security's online process for accessing the files that Social Security has on my clients files today -- using Firefox -- without difficulty. I have heard from some others who have had the same favorable experience this week. I hope that the problems of the past few weeks have been permanently resolved.

NJ Reduces State Supplementation Of SSI

First, let me give some history. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program was introduced in the 1970s. It replaced earlier state programs of aid to indigent people who were of old age or disabled. At the time it was introduced, a number of states were paying higher benefit rates than the new SSI program. States were allowed to supplement the SSI benefits to bring them up to their previous level. Many states still supplement SSI benefits for their residents. The states transfer the money to Social Security which gives SSI recipients one check or direct deposit that includes both the basic SSI rate and the state supplementation. However, states are not obliged to continue the state supplementation.

Social Security has put out an emergency message saying that the state of New Jersey is reducing its state supplementation beginning in January 2011. California has already done this. I will be surprised if other states do not follow suit.

Acronym City: OIG On FIT And DWSI

From a report by Social Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG):
FIT [Findings Integrated Template] was released to all hearing offices in January 2006. FIT was designed to address quality issues in ALJ [Administrative Law Judge] decisions, notably legal error or poorly articulated rationale. With FIT, a DW [Decision Writer] does not have to cut and paste from old decisions to prepare the most common types of decisions. FIT provides more than 2,000 templates in 14 categories that cover the majority of decisional outcomes. Each template provides an analytical framework designed to ensure the relevant issues are addressed in a decision.

SSA implemented the DW Productivity Improvement initiative, which was subsequently renamed DWSI [Decision Writer Statistical Index], in Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 to improve the timeliness of the draft decisions the ALJs receive from DWs and to assess DW productivity. ...

To determine the effectiveness of the FIT and DWSI initiatives, we reviewed decision-writing statistics and surveyed 171 DWs, 131 ALJs, and all 13 administrative appeals judges (AAJ) from the AC. We also interviewed Headquarters-based employees of SSA’s OGC [Social Security's Office of General Counsel].

While the average number of decisions drafted by DWs each day had increased slightly since FIT and DWSI were introduced, we were unable to determine whether the recommended decision-writing timeframes established by DWSI were met. ODAR did not measure decision-writing times in its Case Processing and Management System (CPMS)—ODAR’s management information system. In terms of quality, FIT helped provide uniformity and consistency in written decisions, and the percentage of remanded cases from the AC was lower after FIT and DWSI were introduced. Still, staff reported FIT did not cover all possible decision-writing scenarios, and some improvements were possible.

Memo From Chief ALJ On Dismissals

Published in the newsletter of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR). Click twice on each page to view full size.

Nov 23, 2010


From Federal News Radio:

Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) is about as mild-mannered a member of the upper chamber as one will find. He rarely raises his voice. His questions are of substance, not for show.

But at one his last hearings, Voinovich -- who retires in December -- took the opportunity to make a plea to federal managers.

"It just drives me crazy that more departments don't really stand up and start raising you know what when we don't give you resources you need to get the job done particularly in management," Voinovich said....

"For years we've complained about the social security disability [backlog] and when I met with [Michael] Astrue, [the commissioner of the Social Security Administration] Congress just slashed their budget without any consideration as to whether or not they can get the job done," Voinovich said. "And then when things didn't get done Congress beat them up and if you go back and look at it and say the reason why they couldn't do it is you didn't give them the resources and now you are complaining."

Democrats are certainly guilty of the same behavior but Republicans have raised it to the level of promoting anarchism: Underfund agencies, complain about their poor performance and use their poor performance as justification for cutting agency budgets further because government is horrendously wasteful and should mostly be abolished.

That's Odd

For more than three months the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has been reviewing Social Security's proposal:
...[T]o establish a 12-month time limit for the withdrawal of an old age benefits application. We also propose to permit only one withdrawal per lifetime. These proposed changes would limit the voluntary suspension of benefits only to those benefits disbursed in future months.
OMB has gone beyond its own guidelines on the timeframes for these reviews and has had to officially extend the time for review. I did not think there was anything complicated or controversial about this. It is aimed at shutting down attempts to game Social Security by filing claims for old age benefits, receiving benefits for a term of years and then withdrawing the claim and paying back the benefits to get a higher benefit later.

Social Security Wants To Clarify

From a notice from Social Security to appear in the Federal Register tomorrow:
We are reopening for a limited purpose the comment period for the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that we published in the Federal Register on August 19, 2010 (75 FR 51336). We are reopening the comment period for 15 days to clarify and to seek additional public comment about an aspect of the proposed definitions of the terms “marked” and “extreme” in sections 12.00 and 112.00 of our Listing of Impairments (listings). We are reopening the comment period to accept comments about that issue only. We will not consider comments on any other aspects of the proposed listings for mental disorders that we receive during this reopened comment period. ...

Many commenters focused on two aspects of our proposed rule: 1) a definition of “marked” based on a standardized test score that is two standard deviations below the mean; and, 2) a separate definition of “marked” based on functioning that would be the equivalent of such a score if there were a standardized test. As discussed above, neither of these proposals represents new policy; both are based on our longstanding rules. However, some commenters said that our proposal would encourage our adjudicators to use standardized tests. Many said that we should drop all reference to standardized tests in the mental illness sections of the proposed rules and that the change would reduce the number of children and adults with serious mental disorders who qualify for disability benefits. Some who are already beneficiaries or who have family members who are beneficiaries were concerned that they would lose their benefits. ...

We did not intend for, and do not believe that, our proposed rules would do any of these things. ...
It looks like the other lines of criticism did not bother Social Security that much.

IE Fading Fast

Since there are signs that Social Security is having trouble making its internet services available to those who use browsers other than Internet Explorer, I thought I would take a look at the browsers my readers are using. The report is below. You need to note that about half of my readers are accessing this blog from computers at Social Security and all of them are using Internet Explorer. If you take them out of the equation, it looks as if Firefox is almost as big as Internet Explorer and that Safari and Chrome are growing rapidly.

Insisting that everyone use only Internet Explorer to access Social Security's online services is not an option.

1. 17,039 69.46%

2. 3,993 16.28%
3. 2,327 9.49%
4. 971 3.96%
5. 35 0.14%
6. 33 0.13%
7. 27 0.11%
8. 26 0.11%
9. 23 0.09%
10. 16 0.07%

Nov 22, 2010

What Are The Chances Of A Government Shutdown?

Jonathan Chait, writing in the New Republic:
I think a lot of people are underrating the potential for a government shutdown. Here is the dynamic. ...

You can't convince your base that the president is destroying freedom, undermining capitalism, and threatening 1920s Germany-style inflation, and then turn around and tell them to just wait things out for two years. ...

[I]t's worth delving a bit deeper into the GOP's historical understanding of the government shutdown [in 1995]. The Republican view of this episode -- and I remember this at the time, from my GOP staffer housemate -- was that the whole idea that Republicans shut down the government was a big lie concocted by the Clinton administration and abetted by the liberal media. Clinton, they believe, is the one who shut down the government. After all, if he had agreed to the Republican terms, there would have been no shutdown.

This is actually, as far as I can tell, a fairly unanimous belief among Republicans. ...

Are You Sure That Eleven Years And Nine Months Is An Adequate Test?

From today's Federal Register:
We are announcing the following demonstration project relating to the Social Security disability program under title II of the Social Security Act (Act). ...

In this project, we are testing the use of a benefit offset based on earnings as an alternative to certain rules that we currently apply to title II disability beneficiaries who work. Under the benefit offset, we will reduce title II disability benefits by $1 for every $2 that a beneficiary earns above a substantial gainful activity threshold amount. ...

DATES: The demonstration project will begin January 2011 and will end September 2022.
It seems obvious to me that Social Security isn't just slow walking this; they're slow crawling it. Why?

Social Security Workforce Increases

Below are the September 2010 figures for the number of employees at Social Security along with earlier figures for comparison purposes. Note that the workforce has increased by about 10% since Barack Obama became President.

I fear that we will be lucky to keep the workforce at this level over the next two years. Indeed, furloughs are not out of the question.
  • September 2010 69,963
  • June 2010 69,600
  • March 2010 66,863
  • December 2009 67,486
  • September 2009 67,632
  • June 2009 66,614
  • March 2009 63,229
  • December 2008 63,733
  • September 2008 63,990
  • September 2007 62,407
  • September 2006 63,647
  • September 2005 66,147
  • September 2004 65,258
  • September 2003 64,903
  • September 2002 64,648
  • September 2001 65,377
  • September 2000 64,521
  • September 1999 63,957
  • September 1998 65,629

Nov 21, 2010

Fighting Back -- Does The Public Know Enough To Care?

From a law firm's blog:
At the Landau Law Shop, Herndon Disability lawyer Doug Landau was contacted by several families with bad outcomes as the result of using a volume law firm that failed to prepare their all important Federal cases. While we normally meet with clients, their families and prepare them well in advance of their court date, these firms meet their clients minutes before they are to appear before an Administrative Law Judge ! These cases tugged at our heart strings. In one case, the family was represented by a non-attorney "representative." Another family contacted Social Security lawyer Landau after their lawyer did not file the medical records they procured with the Federal Government and the case was lost.

Nov 20, 2010

Social Security Gives Ground On Standardized Testing; Comment Period On Mental Illness Listings To Be Reopened

A press release from Social Security:

The Social Security Administration announced today that it will publish a notice clarifying part of the recently proposed “Revised Medical Criteria for Evaluating Mental Disorders.”

In order to address some public misunderstanding, the notice will better explain how Social Security would consider the use of standardized testing when it determines disability for people who have a mental disorder.

The original public comment period ended on November 17th, but Social Security will reopen the comment period to provide an additional 15 days from the date of publication of the Federal Register notice to allow additional comment on our proposed policy regarding the use of standardized tests.

To read the entire set of proposals, the new notice about the proposed rule on testing, and all of the public comments, go to and use the search function to find Docket
No. SSA-2007-0101.

Note that there is no talk of clarifying what was meant by the change in the "B" criteria or the changes in the mental retardation listings.

The standardized testing language startled me at first but eventually I concluded that Social Security had not meant anything much by it. Other than for mental retardation and brain damage there simply are not any testing instruments for mental illness that Social Security could possibly justify using.

Keep your eyes on what Social Security does with the "B" criteria and the mental retardation listings. That's where the story is here. Giving ground on one point that you never really cared about can be a good way of defusing criticism on other points that you really do care about. I do not think that Social Security planned this but they do seem to have latched onto this as one way of disarming critics, particularly NAMI.

IOM Studies

The Institutes of Medicine (IOM) at the behest of Social Security has reviewed the disability listings on cardiovascular disorders and HIV-AIDS.

Let me give you a quick summary of the cardiovascular report: "Blah, blah, blah ... Whatever else you do, you MUST, MUST, MUST give us more money for research." The crack team of researchers recommended that Social Security consider making use of exercise testing in evaluating ischemic heart disease. In case you are not familiar with Social Security's cardiovascular listings, they have made extensive use of exercise testing in evaluating ischemic heart disease for decades.

The HIV-AIDS report is better. IOM recommends that "SSA should use CD4 count as an indicator of disability. Specifically, CD4 > 50 cells/mm3 is an indicator that a claimant’s HIV infection is disabling."

Nov 19, 2010

Is The COLA Fair?

From Tara Siegel Bernard's blog at the New York Times:
You could almost hear the collective groan from Social Security recipients after they learned that their benefits would not increase in 2011 because of the low rate of inflation. ...

But what retirees may find even more irksome is the fact that the measure that determines whether they’ll get a raise isn’t even based on the spending patterns of retirees — it’s based on the buying habits of working people. ...

So isn’t it only fair that cost-of-living adjustments for retirees be based on figures that are actually relevant to retirees? ...

Such an index already exists. Created by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the experimental index tracks the spending habits of households headed by individuals 62 or older ...

Called the CPI-E, it reflects the fact that older people spend a greater percentage of their budget on medical care (about 11 percent, compared with the 5 to 6 percent spent by everyone else) and housing, but less on categories like apparel or education. ...

How do they compare? The cost of living for the elderly has increased at a faster pace than the other indexes, but perhaps not quite as fast as you might think. Prices increased 36.1 percent for the elderly from December 1997 to December 2009, compared with 33.8 for the CPI-W and 33.9 percent for the index that includes some retired people, according to the paper. So, on average, the costs for the elderly grew about 0.1 percentage points more each year than the other indexes, Mr. Penner said.

Even if Social Security were pegged to the experimental index, however, it would not have resulted in a cost of living adjustment for the past two years, he added. ...

New Hearing Office In Phoenix

From KTAR:

Last year, Phoenix was selected for [a new hearing] office, which joined existing offices in Phoenix and Tucson.

Slowly but surely, it seems to be working. Since the new office began hearing cases in June, the reported wait time for a decision in the greater Phoenix area had dropped from 477 days to 405 days by late October, according to office director Michele Ridge....

The office expects to eventually hear an average of 350 to 400 cases a month.

Government Shutdown Looming?

The speaker, Grover Norquist, is one of the most important gurus of the Republican Party, perhaps the most important. Notice the passive aggressive nature of his message which is, essentially, "Republicans won't shut down government. Democrats will shut it down if they don't do what the voters -- speaking through Republicans -- demand."

Abandon Your Omnibus Fantasies

From the National Journal:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has effectively killed any hopes of passing an omnibus appropriations bill in the lame duck, announcing Thursday that he is opposed to such a measure. Congress will be forced to keep the government operating through a continuing resolution. ...

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said Wednesday that he expected a decision Thursday on whether Democrats would try to pass a complete omnibus for the rest of the fiscal year, or what is likely to be a shorter-term continuing resolution that freezes federal funding at fiscal 2010 levels. But McConnell's announcement signals a lack of GOP support for that course in the Senate, meaning Democrats will likely have to settle on a continuing resolution. Language for such a bill is being drafted by House and Senate appropriators, aides have said.
A lengthy continuing resolution is bad for Social Security because the agency faces rising workloads. I am very afraid that we are looking at continuing resolutions for the rest of this fiscal year and maybe the next as well.

GAO Study On Effects Of Raising Retirement Age On Disability Claims

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report with the title, Raising the Retirement Ages Would Have Implications for Older Workers and SSA Disability Rolls. Below are some excerpts from the report's somewhat preliminary findings and one chart, just in case any reader thinks the report is dealing with a minor problem that can be safely ignored (click on chart to view it full size):
  • While general improvements in longevity, health, and workplace conditions over recent decades suggest that most workers would be capable of working to a later retirement age, many older workers would face health or physical challenges that could prevent them from working longer.
  • [A]bout one-quarter of age 60-61 workers—those just prior to early retirement eligibility and most likely to be impacted by a change in retirement age—from 1998 to 2008 reported a work-limiting health condition, and about two-thirds of those who work report having a job that is physically demanding.
  • Raising the EEA [Earliest Eligibility Age] or FRA [Full Retirement Age] could increase the number of applications to and beneficiaries of DI [Disability Insurance] and other assistance programs, as well as change retirement benefits.
  • A few researchers have begun to study the effects of the prior increase in the FRA, and two studies conclude that the increase has led to more DI applications.
  • Experts we interviewed indicated that modifications to the DI program and policy changes that provide alternative income support for low-income workers or employment support could help older workers who are unable to work, do not qualify for DI benefits, and are unable to receive enough support from existing programs.... Some proposals to support older workers include modifying the DI program, such as by allowing determinations of “partial disability” similar to how the Veterans Administration determines disability.
  • Raising the EEA would likely have larger effects than a comparable rise in the FRA on retirement decisions, DI applications and awards, and on vulnerable older workers because it would remove the age-62 early retirement option, as opposed to lowering benefits for all early retirees.

A Microsoft Plot?

We are having problems at my firm in filing appeals online. We are told that our "Session has expired." This problem started on Tuesday. This problem is not affecting everyone. It seems to be a problem only for those who use Firefox as their web browser. Those who use Internet Explorer seem to be okay. This comes on top of suggestions that part of the recent problems that we and others have experienced in using Social Security's online access to client files has been related to using Firefox instead of Internet Explorer.

Yes, the workaround is obvious. No, I don't literally think there is a Microsoft plot. I think it is likely that some contractor at Social Security has made the bone-headed mistake of thinking that everyone uses Internet Explorer. For a government agency to insist that the public use only one web browser in dealing with the agency would be inappropriate.

Nov 18, 2010

Hearing Office Average Processing Time Report

From the newsletter of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR). Click on each thumbnail twice to view full size.

Landover Office Receives Award

From The Gazette of Gaithersburg, MD:
The Social Security Administration's Landover office received The Arc [Association for Retarded Citizens] of Prince George's County's "Award of Excellence for Governmental Affairs" Oct. 21 at the University of Maryland Golf Club.

AT& T Wins Contract

From a press release:

AT&T Government Solutions announced it has won a fair opportunity award to deploy the Citizens Access Routing Enterprise (CARE) through 2020 contact call center solution for the Social Security Administration (SSA). ... . The award will permit SSA to issue individual task orders to AT&T worth up to $286 million for an Internet Protocol (IP) – based interactive voice response automation and contact call center solution through SSA’s national toll-free number. ...

AT&T’s deployment of the CARE through 2020 contact call center solution will allow SSA the flexibility to meet increased demands and add new communication technologies and services, such as Web Callback, "Click to Talk", Web Collaboration, and Web Chat. In addition, CARE through 2020 will allow SSA to implement an enhanced reporting system that incorporates data from multiple sources and real-time network indicators, helping the agency identify and improve citizen interaction.

Nov 17, 2010

My Comments On Proposed Psychiatric Listing Changes

Below are my comments on the proposed changes to Social Security's psychiatric Listings. Today is the final day to post your comments. To make a comment:
SSA strongly recommends submission of comments via the eRulemaking portal at On that site, follow these directions:
  • Click on "submit a comment"
  • In the space for "Enter keyword of ID," type in: SSA-2007-0101. Then click on "Search."
  • One result should appear - the SSA mental disorders NPRM. On the right side, click on "Submit a Comment."
  • Complete the form. It allows you to type in a comment (2000 characters maximum) or attach a document. To attach a document, first you "browse" and then must click on "attach."
Charles T. Hall Comments On Proposed Psychiatric Listing Changes
In general, I associate myself with the comments made by NOSSCR. In addition, I want to emphasize three points.

First, the substitution of the word "and" for the word "or" in the "B" criteria is a major change no matter what is said in the explanation of these changes. Let me give an example of the difference. Let us say that one needs to pass a test and the components of the test are:
  1. Rub your stomach
  2. Pat your head
  3. Jump up and down.
If one is required to do only one of these three things, the test is simple to pass. However, if the test requires one to rub one's stomach, pat one's head and jump up and down all at the same time, the test becomes difficult. That is essentially what is proposed here. There is no basis for making this change to make things so much more difficult for claimants suffering from mental illness.

Second, in the proposed Listing 12.05 no distinction is made between the evidence required to establish onset before age twenty-two for individuals meeting the criteria depending upon whether they meet the criteria for A, B, C or D subdivisions. Logically, an individual with an IQ of fifty-nine or less would be expected to show more obvious signs of mental retardation in early life than would an individual with an IQ of sixty to seventy. Indeed, one would expect an individual with an IQ between sixty and seventy to show only subtle signs of their mental retardation in childhood. To have the same requirement for showing lack of normal intelligence in early years for individuals with such disparate IQs is to essentially make the requirement the same, that is, to require evidence of serious mental retardation in early life. This renders Listing 12.05.C meaningless.

Third, this Listing needs to deal with some of what is happening at Social Security already in terms of the requirements to demonstrate mental retardation before age 22 or, at least, some of the things that are being used as proof that an individual was not retarded before age twenty-two. Let me give a list of things that have been used and are being used as proof that an individual was not retarded before age twenty-two:
  1. Learning to read and write
  2. Graduating from high school
  3. Getting married
  4. Having a baby
  5. Fathering a child
  6. Raising a child
  7. Living independently, even for brief periods of time
  8. Working intermittently
  9. Working steadily for a period of years
  10. Maintaining a bank account
  11. Paying bills
  12. Having a boyfriend or girlfriend
  13. Having a social life
  14. Filing a claim for Social Security benefits without outside assistance
  15. Doing household chores such as cooking and cleaning
  16. Buying groceries
  17. Being able to make change
All of these are consistent with an individual whose IQ is and always has been between sixty and seventy yet these have been used frequently to deny Social Security disability claims. I think that the Social Security Administration should deal with this by talking in the Listing about how each of these should be considered.

Commissioner On Phasing In DOT Replacement And Possible Automatic Approvals For 100% Disabled Vets

The National Association of Disability Examiners (NADE), an organization of personnel who make initial and reconsideration determinations on Social Security disability claims, has issued its Fall 2010 newsletter. Here is an excerpt from an article on Commissioner Michael Astrue's speech to a NADE conference in September:
Perhaps the one single issue facing the disability claims process that must be addressed is the need for SSA to replace the outdated Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). Even at the mention of the DOT, the Commissioner was greeted with laughter from the audience. These NADE members were well acquainted with the DOT and its increasing prominence as an antique book. ... SSA has taken some major heat for accepting responsibility to update this volume of work that previously was the responsibility of the Department of Labor. ... Although it is a multi—year project to complete the new OIS [Occupational Information System], the Agency does not plan to wait until the end to roll out the new OIS but plans to phase in portions of the new OIS. ...

There has been some expression of thought among Members of Congress that there should be increased sharing of information between the Veterans Administration and the Social Security Administration, even to the point that veterans qualifying for disability benefits under the VA should automatically become entitled to SSA disability benefits. Although the two agencies have very different definitions of disability, the Commissioner reported there had been some initial communication between the two agencies as to how they could achieve such a goal. SSA is looking into the possibility of granting disability benefits to veterans qualifying for 100% disability from the VA and additional talks on this subject would continue.

Nov 16, 2010

Electronic Access Problems

Only a few attorneys and representatives have online access to their clients' Social Security files. I am fortunate enough to be one of them. It has been very useful. Unfortunately, in the last week two serious problems have developed in the online access.

First, when trying to access client files, one must input a numerical code sent by text message. Yes, the text messaging is weird in and of itself but that is not the problem. The code must be entered in a box. When you click on that box to start entering data, nothing happens. The box does not open up. You can enter nothing. I have heard that there is a workaround of using the tab key to get the block open. At best, that is laborious. This also presents a problem for me in that I have found a way of receiving text messages by e-mail. I had been copying the numerical code and pasting it in the block. I have not been able to make that work so I must laboriously copy the code. Maybe Social Security likes to make it laborious.

The first problem is bad enough but the second is worse. You can no longer review an individual item from the electronic folder. When you click to view an item, you get a message saying "We Cannot Process Your Request At This Time." The only thing you can do is to download the entire record and that can take hours.

I delayed posting anything about this hoping that Social Security would get the problem solved quickly but they have so far been unable to do so. This is getting frustrating.

Crowe Paradis Sold

From a press release from September that I missed:

Daytona Beach, Fla.-based insurance broker Brown & Brown has acquired Wakefield, Mass.-based Crowe Paradis.

Financial terms of the deal were not released.

Founded in 2002, Crowe Paradis, with annual revenues of approximately $23 million, is a national provider of Social Security and Medicare advocacy services, and second injury fund recovery services.

Can't Figure Out How To Complete Your Online Application? Schedule An Appointment Online

From Emergency Message EM-10076:
Beginning November 23, 2010, first party internet users who are unable to complete an online application due to verification issues will be presented with the new iAppt link. If users select the link, they will have the opportunity to self-schedule an in-office or telephone appointment for:
    · Retirement (RIB),
    · Disability (DIB),
    · Medicare, and
    · Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

OIG -A-Palooza!

Social Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG) just released seven audit reports to the public. Here are some links with my comments in italics based upon a very cursory review of the reports.

Trying To Shift The Blame

From the Associated Press:
Social Security efforts to trim a disability claims backlog haven't done enough to halt personal ordeals for disabled people awaiting government help, a Senate oversight committee told the head of the agency Monday.

For people in need and awaiting claims, "Your heart goes out to them," U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, Republican of Ohio, said at a Senate subcommittee field hearing on disability claim backlogs of two years or more.
If Voinovich's party has its way on appropriations, expect these backlogs to grow over the next two years. That is not what Voinovich or his party really want but that would be the inevitable effect if Social Security's appropriations are cut back to 2008 levels. That is what the Republican Party ran on in the last election.

Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue, for his part, testified at the hearing that:
We have been chronically underfunded for 15 straight years, beginning in the early 1990s ... [I]t was a bipartisan thing. It didn't matter the party of the president or the party of Congress, our administrative funding was just not as sexy as a lot of other things that Congress wants to spend money for.
Baloney. Republicans were in control of either the White House or Congress for that entire time period until the last two years. Democrats fought for higher administrative budgets for Social Security for the entire time period. They were consistently blocked by Republicans until the last two years. It has only been in the last two years that Social Security has made any real progress on its backlogs. Republican control of the House of Representatives will allow Republicans to once again block adequate appropriations for Social Security.

Nov 15, 2010

New Homepage For Social Security

The Social Security Administration unveiled its new homepage today.

It looks less cluttered to me. What do you think?

Senate Hearing In Ohio

The Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs held a hearing today in Akron, Ohio. Here are the prepared remarks:

Panel 1
  • The Honorable Michael Astrue [view testimony]
    Social Security Administration
  • The Honorable Patrick P. O'Carroll, Jr. [view testimony]
    Inspector General
    Social Security Administration

Panel 2

  • Mr. Richard Warsinskey [view testimony]
    Cleveland Downtown District Office Manager and Past President
    National Council of Social Security Management Associations
  • Mr. Randy Frye [view testimony]
    Association of Administrative Law Judges

Wednesday Is Final Day For Comments On Proposed Changes To Mental Impairments Listings

Wednesday, November 17 is the final day for comments to be made upon Social Security's Notice of Proposed Rule-Making (NPRM) that would alter its mental illness listings used in determining disability. Over 1,200 comments have already been filed. Most seem to have been inspired by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). You can see their recommended comments at the NAMI website.

Comments may be made online. Here are the instructions sent out by the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives for filing comments online:
SSA strongly recommends submission of comments via the eRulemaking portal at On that site, follow these directions:
  • Click on "submit a comment"
  • In the space for "Enter keyword of ID," type in: SSA-2007-0101. Then click on "Search."
  • One result should appear - the SSA mental disorders NPRM. On the right side, click on "Submit a Comment."
  • Complete the form. It allows you to type in a comment (2000 characters maximum) or attach a document. To attach a document, first you "browse" and then must click on "attach."
NOSSCR's own comments are an excellent resource to use in preparing your comment since they include essentially all of the objections that people have made to the NPRM.

Nov 14, 2010

ALJs Complain Of Threats

From the Associated Press:
Judges who hear Social Security disability cases are facing a growing number of violent threats from claimants angry over being denied benefits or frustrated at lengthy delays in processing claims.

There were at least 80 threats to kill or harm administrative law judges or staff over the past year — an 18 percent increase over the previous reporting period, according to data collected by the agency.

The data was released to the Association of Administrative Law Judges and made available to The Associated Press. ...

A Senate subcommittee is expected to hear testimony on Monday at a field hearing in Akron, Ohio, about the rising number of threats, as well as the status of the massive backlog in applications for disability benefits, which are available to people who can't work because of medical problems.

Nov 13, 2010

Why Didn't You Do This Before The Election?

From CNN Money:
When House Democrats return to Washington on Monday, a top priority will be putting a $250 dollar check in the mail to 58 million Social Security recipients.

Democrats plan to vote early in the lame-duck session on a bill that would provide Social Security recipients with a one-time payment, according to the office of Earl Pomeroy, a Democrat from North Dakota who authored the legislation.

Concerns Over Proposed Mental Illness Listings Changes

From the Chicago Tribune:

Deep inside a 34-page proposed federal regulation are a few sentences that are causing nightmares for mental health advocacy groups.

The regulation, from the Social Security Administration, could change how people with mental illnesses are evaluated for disability payments.

The angst is over whether standardized testing will be required to determine such payments. The proposed regulation is not clear on that controversial subject. At one point is says standardized tests will not be required but then goes into detail on how the exams would be used to determine a person's fitness for work.

The confusion over the wording — and fears that it will be interpreted to require testing — has advocates by the hundreds calling in comments to the Social Security Administration, which will accept them until Wednesday....

"We don't have good tests for this, and the way they are describing how the tests would be used suggests the goal and likely effect is to dramatically reduce the number of people who are eligible for disability," said Mark Heyrman of the Mental Health Summit, a Chicago-based advocacy group. ...

Tom Yates, an attorney with Chicago's Health and Disability Advocates, has a benign interpretation of the proposed rules. He thinks Social Security wants only to clarify its expectations for the few times a standardized test might be used in a mental illness disability claim.

For the record, I have only mild concerns about this aspect of the proposal. In my mind there is a more serious problem that has to do with substituting the word "and" for the word "or." I will write more about this in the near future.

CBO Study On Social Security Disability

From a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Study(footnotes omitted):
Between 1970 and 2009, the number of people receiving DI benefits more than tripled, from 2.7 million to 9.7 million. That jump, which significantly outpaced the increase in the working-age population during that period, is attributable to several changes—in characteristics of that population, in federal policy, and in opportunities for employment. In addition, during those years, the average inflation-adjusted cost per person receiving DI benefits rose from about $6,900 to about $12,800 (in 2010 dollars). As a result, inflation-adjusted expenditures for the DI program, including administrative costs, increased nearly sevenfold between 1970 and 2009, climbing from $18 billion to $124 billion (in 2010 dollars). Most DI beneficiaries, after a two-year waiting period, are also eligible for Medicare; the cost of those benefits in fiscal year 2009 totaled about $70 billion.

Under current law, the DI program is not financially sustainable. ... Without legislative action to reduce the DI program’s outlays, increase its dedicated federal revenues, or transfer other federal funds to it, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will not have the legal authority to pay full DI benefits beyond [2018].

Nov 12, 2010

NOSSCR Comments On Mental Impairments Listings Changes

The National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR) has posted its comments on the proposed changes to Social Security's Mental Impairment Listings. Here are a few excerpts:
II. “B” Criteria Issues ...
[W]e have a significant concern about the language change in paragraph B3, which also applies to the newly proposed paragraph B1. As discussed below, SSA should use the word “or,” rather than “and.”

The NPRM [Notice of Proposed Rule-Making] proposes to change paragraph B to read as follows:

B. Marked limitations of two or extreme limitation of one of the following mental abilities:”
1. “Ability to understand, remember, and apply information”;
2. “Ability to interact with others”;
3. “Ability to concentrate, persist, and maintain pace”; and
4. “Ability to manage oneself.”

In the preamble to the NPRM, SSA explains the change from “or” to “and,” stating that it is not a substantive change from current policy, “but only a clarification of the overall requirement” ...

We are concerned that changing “or” to “and” in the actual listing could be misinterpreted as a change in policy that would set a higher standard so that a claimant would be required to demonstrate limitation in each of the three components of the proposed B1 or B3 criteria. We do not believe that this is what SSA intends by the proposed change in light of the statement above in the preamble ...

C. Use of standardized test scores and “standard deviations”

SSA proposes to incorporate provisions from the childhood SSI functional equivalence regulation, 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(e), regarding the definition of “marked” and “extreme.” See 75 Fed. Reg. at 51342. This results in SSA defining “marked” and “extreme” in terms of standardized testing and standard deviations below the mean. Under this change, an individual could be found to have a “marked limitation” in one of the paragraph B criteria with a score that is at least two, but less than three, standard deviations below the mean on an individually administered standardized test designed to measure that ability. The individual could be found to have an “extreme limitation” with a score that is three standard deviations below the mean. ...

This is a flawed approach which should not be used in the listings for either adults or children with mental health disorders because, to date, no standardized instruments have been developed which measure the specific functions in the B criteria and are widely accepted by professionals in the field of assessment. ...

V. Listing 12.05: Intellectual Disability/Mental Retardation (ID/MR) ...
Claimants’ representatives know first-hand that some adjudicators will ignore or give less weight to IQ test scores if the adjudicators subjectively believe that the claimant’s functioning is inconsistent with the test score, even if there is no basis for rejecting the validity of the test score. We question this practice. The proposed criteria could support the practice of some state agencies and ALJs who deny cases because the claimant can cook, take care of personal needs, care for children, or shows some other skill or strength.

Comments on the NPRM must be filed by November 17.

Study On Accelerated Medicare Benefits For The Disabled

Social Security has released a new issue of the Social Security Bulletin, the agency's scholarly publication. One article is of particular interest for the long term. Social Security has been doing a demonstration project which has allowed a few people approved for Disability Insurance Benefits by Social Security to go on Medicare immediately without the brutal two year and five month waiting period. This is the first report on that project. Not surprisingly, those few who received early Medicare reported better health care.

Virginia Attorney Accused Of Misappropriating $450,000 In Social Security Fees

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

A Richmond attorney who was fired for theft this year from the law firm of Marks & Harrison has surrendered her law license after admitting to the Virginia State Bar that she misappropriated at least $450,000 from her former employer.

The case involving Kyle Cornelia Leftwich is now in the hands of Hopewell Commonwealth's Attorney Richard K. Newman, who said yesterday that he intends to seek criminal charges against Leftwich after the matter was referred to his office by the Virginia State Bar. Leftwich worked at Marks & Harrison as a disability-law specialist from September 1994 until her termination in June. ...

According to a disciplinary board affidavit, Leftwich's practice included representing disability claimants before the Social Security Administration. When she successfully concluded a claim, the government would issue a check for legal fees payable to her as the claimant's attorney.

Although the checks were made payable to her, they were the property of Marks & Harrison, in accordance with her employment agreement. Beginning in 2003, however, Leftwich began diverting some of these checks for her own use rather than delivering them to the law firm, the affidavit says. ...

Chamberlain, Edmonds Sold

I missed this story from the Atlanta Business Chronicle from September:
Emdeon will acquire Atlanta-based Chamberlin Edmonds & Associates for $260 million.

Nashville-based Emdeon, a health care information technology company, announced Monday it will buy Chamberlin Edmonds, whose software helps hospitals determine Medicaid eligibility. Chamberlin Edmonds' customers include more than 200 acute care facilities in 30 states.

As many readers know, Chamberlin, Edmonds provides representation on Medicaid disability cases that are closely related to Social Security disability claims.


The co-chair of the President's budget deficit commission, Erskine Bowles, is from my state, North Carolina. Bowles has a day job. Although he will be retiring shortly, he is President of the Consolidated University of North Carolina, meaning that he is in charge of 16 state colleges and universities which have about 200,000. students. North Carolina, like other states, has been hit hard by the ongoing recession. This has reduced tax revenues and created massive budgeting problems for all NC state agencies, including state colleges and universities. Given that Bowles seems largely unconcerned by the possibility of massive cuts in Social Security and Medicare, you would think that he would be hard at work cutting deeply into the budgets of the colleges and universities he controls, making the politically unpalatable decisions that must be made. You might think that but you would be wrong. Despite the fact that the state constitution requires that the legislature "shall provide that the benefits of The University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense," Bowles has embarked upon massive tuition hikes at state colleges and universities.

By the way, I wish I could link to the "Erskine bowls" ad that Bowles ran during his race for the Senate in 2002, but alas, it is not available on youtube. The ad showed Erskine Bowles bowling. It was a feeble attempt to show that he had the common touch. It failed as did his Senate campaign.

Nov 11, 2010

The Real Problem

From Kevin Drum's blog:

I've been trying to figure out whether I have anything to say about the "chairman's mark" of the deficit commission report that was released today. In a sense, I don't. This is not a piece of legislation, after all. Or a proposed piece of legislation. Or even a report from the deficit commission itself. It's just a draft presentation put together by two guys. Do you know how many deficit reduction proposals are out there that have the backing of two guys? Thousands. Another one just doesn't matter.

But the iron law of the news business is that if people are talking about it, then it matters. So this report matters, even though it's really nothing more than the opinion of Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles. So here's what I think of it, all contained in one handy chart from the Congressional Budget Office:

Here's what the chart means:

  • Discretionary spending (the light blue bottom chunk) isn't a long-term deficit problem. It takes up about 10% of GDP forever. What's more, pretending that it can be capped is just game playing: anything one Congress can do, another can undo. So if you want to recommend a few discretionary cuts, that's fine. Beyond that, though, the discretionary budget should be left to Congress since it can be cut or expanded easily via the ordinary political process. That's why it's called "discretionary."
  • Social Security (the dark blue middle chunk) isn't a long-term deficit problem. It goes up very slightly between now and 2030 and then flattens out forever. If Republicans were willing to get serious and knock off their puerile anti-tax jihad, it could be fixed easily with a combination of tiny tax increases and tiny benefit cuts phased in over 20 years that the public would barely notice. It deserves about a week of deliberation.
  • Medicare, and healthcare in general, is a huge problem. It is, in fact, our only real long-term spending problem.

To put this more succinctly: any serious long-term deficit plan will spend about 1% of its time on the discretionary budget, 1% on Social Security, and 98% on healthcare. Any proposal that doesn't maintain approximately that ratio shouldn't be considered serious. The Simpson-Bowles plan, conversely, goes into loving detail about cuts to the discretionary budget and Social Security but turns suddenly vague and cramped when it gets to Medicare. That's not serious.

Veterans Day 2010

Proposal To Cut Social Security

The co-chairs of the fiscal commission, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson have released their draft of recommendations for the Commission. It is important to note that this is only the draft of the co-chairs, not the final Commission recommendations. The co-chairs have these recommendations for Social Security:
  • Index the retirement age to longevity -- i.e., increase the retirement age to qualify for Social Security -- to age 69 by 2075.
  • Index Social Security yearly increases to a lower inflation rate, which will generally mean lower cost of living increases and less money per average recipient.
  • "Increase progressivity of benefit formula" -- i.e., reduce benefits by 2050 for middle, and, especially, higher earners, relative to current benefits.
  • Increase the Social Security contribution ceiling: while people only pay Social Security taxes on the first $106,800 of their wages today, that's only about 86% of the total potentially taxable wages. The co-chairs suggest raising the ceiling to capture 90% of wages.
Some reactions:
  • From the White House: "The President will wait until the bipartisan fiscal commission finishes its work before commenting. He respects the challenging task that the Co-Chairs and the Commissioners are undertaking and wants to give them space to work on it. These ideas, however, are only a step in the process towards coming up with a set of recommendations and the President looks forward to reviewing their final product early next month," said White House spokesperson, Bill Burton.
  • From Nancy Pelosi: This proposal is simply unacceptable. Any final proposal from the Commission should do what is right for our children and grandchildren’s economic security as well as for our nation’s fiscal security, and it must do what is right for our seniors, who are counting on the bedrock promises of Social Security and Medicare. And it must strengthen America’s middle class families–under siege for the last decade, and unable to withstand further encroachment on their economic security.
  • From Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat: "We're not going to have an up-or-down vote on this. There are proposals in there that are painful. I told them I said there are things in here which inspire me and others which I hate like the devil hates holy water. I'm not going to vote for those things."
  • From Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican: "If we do the cuts, I'll go for it. We may have to go for some revenues at some point."
  • From AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: "The chairmen of the Deficit Commission just told working Americans to 'Drop Dead,'"
  • From Ezra Klein: The co-chairmen have some interesting policy ideas for how to balance the budget, but as of yet, they've not made any discernible progress on the political deadlock preventing us from balancing the budget. And it's the deadlock, not the policy questions, that they were asked to solve.

Nov 10, 2010

Bonuses To The Brass -- And A Weird Ring

The union that represents most Social Security employees, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), has issued its October newsletter. The newsletter has a brief and very odd article concerning a peculiar ring that it says that the manager of the Santa Rosa, California field office wears. Of wider interest, the newsletter includes the results of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for information on bonus awards to Social Security brass. Social Security took 15 months to respond to the FOIA request so it is already out of date. Here are the numbers:

Atlanta Region:
Paul Barnes, Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $22,000 December 24, 2006
Performance Award $22,000 March 14, 2008

Algeleon P. Rhodes, Asst/Deputy Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $8,000 January 22, 2006
Performance Award $8,000 December 24, 2006
Performance Award $8,125 March 14, 2008

Mary Ann Sloan, Regional Chief Counsel
Performance Award $10,000 January 22, 2006
Performance Award $14,000 December 24, 2006
Performance Award $14,750 March 14, 2008
SES Rank Award $32,680 December 30, 2008

Quittie C. Wilson, Asst Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $8,000 January 22, 2006
Performance Award $8,000 December 24, 2006

Boston Region:
Susan Harding, Deputy Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $9,000 January 22, 2006
Performance Award $11,000 December 24, 2006
Performance Award $12,500 March 14, 2008

Manuel Nunez, Asst Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $8,000 January 22, 2006
Performance Award $9,000 December 24, 2006
Performance Award $10,000 March 14, 2008

Manuel Vaz, Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $10,000 January 22, 2006
Performance Award $20,000 December 24, 2006
Performance Award $23,375 March 14, 2008
SES Rank Award $59,897 September 30, 2008

Chicago Region:
Kim L. Bright, Regional Chief Counsel
Performance Award $8,000 January 23, 2005
Performance Award $10,000 January 22, 2006

Danny L. Byrns, TSC Manager
Individual Suggestion $4,050 December 20, 2004

Donna L. Calvert, Regional Chief Counsel
Performance Award $10,000 December 24, 2006
Performance Award $7,700 March 14, 2008

Trudy A. Lewis, Asst Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $8,000 January 22, 2006
Performance Award $7,700 March 14, 2008

Mary D. Mahler, Asst Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $7,850 March 14, 2008

James F. Martin, Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $9,000 January 23, 2005
Performance Award $12,000 January 22, 2006
Performance Award $12,000 December 24, 2006
Performance Award $12,000 March 14, 2008

Marcia R. Mosley, Deputy Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $1,500 May 29, 2005
Performance Award $8,000 December 24, 2006
Performance Award $9,250 March 14, 2008

Dallas Region:
Earl Melebeck, Assistant/Deputy Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $10,000 January 22, 2006
Performance Award $10,000 December 24, 2006

Ramona Schuenemeyer, Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $24,000 January 22, 2006
Performance Award $8,000 December 24, 2006
Performance Award $21,750 March 14, 2008
SES Rank Award $32,975 September 30, 2008

Tina M. Waddell, Regional Chief Counsel
Performance Award $12,000 December 24, 2006
Performance Award $16,500 March 14, 2008

Denver Region:
Nancy A. Berryhill, Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $12,000 January 22, 2006
Performance Award $14,000 December 24, 2006
Performance Award $17,500 March 14, 2008

Yvette Keesee, Deputy Regional Chief Counsel
Performance Award $3,500 April 14, 2008

Katherine E. Kintz, Deputy Assistant Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $2,000 March 30, 2008

Martha J. Lambie, Deputy Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $8,125 March 14, 2008

Kansas City Region:
Michael Grochowski, Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $24,000 January 22, 2006
Performance Award $10,000 December 24, 2006
Performance Award $13,500 March 14, 2008

William K. Powell, Assistant/Deputy Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $8,000 December 24, 2006
Performance Award $8,500 March 14, 2008

Frank V. Smith III, Regional Chief Counsel
Performance Award $10,000 January 22, 2006

New York Region:
(No dates were given)
Beatrice Disman, Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $25,000
Performance Award $26,150

Paul M. Doersam, Deputy Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $15,000
Performance Award $16,500
Performance Award $15,000

Anne Jacobosky, Assistant Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $8,000
Performance Award $8,000

Philadelphia Region:
Steven G. DeMarco, Assistant Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $12,000 January 22, 2006
Performance Award $12,000 December 24, 2006
Performance Award $14,250 March 14, 2008

Lewis H. Kaiser, Deputy Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $12,000 December 24, 2006

Paula M. Newcomer, Deputy Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $8,125 March 14, 2008

San Francisco Region:
Stephen J. Breen, Assistant Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $8,000 January 22, 2006
Performance Award $8,000 December 24, 2006
Performance Award $8,500 March 14, 2008

Patricia E. Robidart, Deputy Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $8,000 December 24, 2006
Performance Award $8,200 March 14, 2008

Peter D. Spencer, Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $20,000 January 23, 2005
Performance Award $22,000 January 22, 2006
SES Rank Award $56,708 September 27, 2006
Performance Award $26,150 March 14, 2008

Seattle Region:
(No dates were given)
Carl L. Ruban, Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $10,000
Performance Award $10,000

Dennis S. Wulkan, Assistant Regional Commissioner
Performance Award $10,000
Performance Award $8,000