Sep 27, 2012

Left Hand, Right Hand

     I received an Appeals Council reversal, that is a decision reversing an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) decision that had denied a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability claim, last month. I wondered why my client hadn't heard from the local field office which is responsible for computing the back benefits and certifying their payment so we checked. Turns out no one had bothered to notify the field office about the Appeals Council action until we called. We had to send them a copy of the Appeals Council decision.
     If you wonder what attorneys do to help Social Security claimants, a fair amount of it fits into the category of knowing what Social Security's left and right hands are each supposed to do and then introducing the two hands to each other so they work together. Law offices have tickler systems so we don't drop the ball. All too often, lawyers are Social Security's only tickler system. I say this not to criticize Social Security so much as to point out the complexity of Social Security's operations. It's very hard to keep each individual part of Social Security functioning despite grossly inadequate funding. Keeping the parts of Social Security working together is extraordinarily difficult. It often requires outside help.

1 comment:

blacksheep7777 said...

As far as I know, A/C is not sending paper notices to Filed Offices (except, perhaps, the increasingly rare paper folder case). A/C reviews are often sent directly to the A/C and the Field Office often does not know that it exists at all until after the fact. Field Offices have a couple of systems that can be checked, but but there are several problems. 1) Lack of time and overload. 2) These systems display by 'Unit Number'. Most Claims Reps are only checking for their own unit number. A supervisor, technical expert, or other designated staff has to pull up the entire listing to locate and re-assign cases that have no unit number, or have a unit number that does not exist in the Field Office with jurisdiction. There are a great many cases that have no unit number or one that is not in use in a particular Field Office. >>> As is more and more common, resources to check on these cases are declining. The two primary sources for this type of list/workload are the 'WAC' list and the 'EDCS' action list.