Apr 16, 2012

On A Collision Course

     The National Association of Disability Examiners (NADE), an organization of the disability examiners who make determinations on disability claims for Social Security at the initial and reconsideration levels, has issued its Spring 2012 newsletter. Here's an excerpt from a summary of a meeting between the NADE Board and several Social Security officials:
SSA [Social Security Administration and the DDS [Disability Determination Services] can expect a continued decrease in the national budget.  All departments, including SSA, are facing an across the board funding cut of nine percent (9%) next fiscal year barring a legislative change in the law.  The projections is that close to 3,000 DDS employees have been lost since Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 to attrition with only the ability to hire 200 critically needed employees nationwide. The loss of each examiner equates to a loss of work on 600 claims. ...  Last FY the DDS had 59,000 staged claims awaiting assignment [to a disability examiner]. Currently there are 106,000 staged claims and SSA anticipates there will be 170,000 staged claims by the end of this fiscal year [September 30, 2012]. The Continuing Disability Review (CDR) workload has been set at 435,000 for FY 2012 with the potential for a dramatic increase for CDRs next fiscal year, depending upon the  budget.
      Note the inherent conflict between doing Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) to determine whether claimants are still disabled and doing reviews of new disability claims. Congress has ordered that there be great increases in the number of CDRs at a time when the agency is not being given enough funds to review new disability claims. Inevitably, this creates a large and constantly increasing backlog of new claims awaiting adjudication. This conflict may become dramatically worse next year because Social Security may be forced to do dramatically more CDRs next year with a dramatically lower appropriation.


Anonymous said...

SSA management at some point has to push back and say, okay, we are not doing CDR's or SSI redeterminations,
or changes of address, or Social Security numbers, because there is no one left to do them, instead of always saying, sure we can get this done, and pushing the staff to do increasingly crappier work to make it look like it is getting done. I have seen T2 dib claim filed online get denied for lack of insured status that were actually insured, because the push to clear claims with lack of staff is so extreme.

John Herling said...

Like being told to make more bricks with less straw!

Anonymous said...

Very few CDRs take place currently and it's a downright shame.

If I were an ALJ I would be more comfortable paying a case if I knew that every 3 years a comprehensive review was going to occur.

Unfortunately we have wayyy too many people who were marginal, it terms of whether they should have been paid or were actually disabled but now have recovered to the point where they can resume working, but have no incentive to since no CDRs ever occur.

With limited funds, compromises have to be made. IMO we pay too many people, so I support more CDRs.

Anonymous said...

Improperlly done CDRs are worse than no CDRs. Claimants are left with no income, possibly no Medicare (depends on the reason for the cessation), and often with huge overpayments in the tens of thousands of dollars -- which may not be correctly calculated due to shoddy SSA work. It all goes back to having too much work, too little time, and the resulting shortcuts.

As a rep, I have great difficulty even getting info from the file for anything other than a regular disability hearing. My client cannot adequately contest an improperly done determination, without basic info such as what earnings SSA has on file.

Anonymous said...

The push for medical cdrs is largely based on the myth that nine dollars is saved for every dollar spent. My 30 years of experience in the field confirms that after appeals and new applications very few individuals actually leave the rolls and little money is saved. I believe at least 1 OIG report confirmed this.