I had some time today, while I did other things, to listen to yesterday's Senate Finance Committee hearing. Here are some things I heard that seemed noteworthy to me:
- Commissioner Astrue said that the technology used for Social Security video hearings before Administrative Law Judges had gotten so good that one could see the watermark on a drivers license.[That is not close to my experience. Often I can hardly recognize the people on the other end.]
- A quote from Commissioner Astrue responding to a question about the number of Social Security employees who are eligible or near eligible to retire: "I'm close to panic about holding onto our people."
- Social Security has a system which reports episodes of violence or threatened violence affecting Social Security offices. There used to be about 500 reports a year. It's now around 2,500.
- Ticket to Work is a "disappointment." The actuaries say it is not cost effective.
- Astrue said emphatically at about one hour into the hearing that it is not the law that attorneys and others who represent Social Security disability claimants are required to submit all medical evidence.
- The Commissioner is uncertain whether current law which gives Social Security Commissioners fixed terms which can overlap Presidential Administrations is a good idea. He seemed to indicate that he thinks it is a bad idea.
- Astrue said that his continuing as Commissioner after the change in the White House was not what the incoming Obama Administration wanted.
- He does not want another term as Commissioner. He wants to return to Massachusetts.
Please listen to it yourself. It has its dull moments but also some interesting ones. It's certainly more interesting than most of these.