Dec 27, 2012

Social Security News Retrospective For 2012

     Here are my picks for the most interesting news reported here in 2012:
  • January 2 -- Carolyn Colvin, Social Security's Deputy Commissioner, speaking to the National Council of Social Security Management Associations (NCSSMA), says "We can no longer do more with less. We will do less with less ..."
  • January 11 -- Insurers benefit from changes in Social Security death master files since they will not be forced to pay on many life insurance contracts where the beneficiaries are unaware of the insurance contract.
  • January 14 -- Social Security lets contract for construction of new national data center.
  • February 17 -- Social Security's Office Of Inspector General (OIG) issues report on "outlier" Administrative Law Judges (ALJs)
  • February 20 -- A Rupert Murdock controlled media outlet starts the meme that the cause of the increase in the number of people filing claims for Social Security disability benefits is high unemployment rather than the aging of the baby boomer population. This new meme rapidly becomes the accepted wisdom of the political right if not the entire country.
  • March 1 -- Social Security and the AFGE reach conceptual agreement on a new union contract.
  • March 5 -- A Harris poll shows that only 12% of the population wants to cut Social Security benefits. All Republican candidates for President at the time wanted to cut Social Security benefits.
  • March 16 -- Wanting to seem "serious" and apparently believing that Republicans were going to win the election, AARP signals its openness to cutting Social Security benefits. AARP must not have read the Harris poll.
  • April 23 -- Social Security trustees report shows that the Disability Insurance trust fund is likely to run out of funds in 2016.
  • May 9 -- Withholding the identity of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) holding a Social Security disability hearing isn't enough. The National Hearing Center ALJs will have to travel to hold hearings.
  • May 14 -- Jacob and Sophia top the lists of most popular baby names.
  • May 23 -- At a Congressional hearing, Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue says that attorneys representing Social Security disability claimants have no duty to submit adverse evidence on their clients.
  • May 31 -- Social Security announces that because of lack of funding the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) and Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) programs will be terminated at the end of September
  • June 14 -- Social Security awards $233 million contract to CenturyLink, Inc. for data networking services, the largest such contract ever awarded by the federal government.
  • July 17 -- Women protest outside Social Security field office in Napa, California after woman was told she could not breastfeed at the office.
  • July 27 -- Study shows that the majority of women retire on Social Security benefits at age 62. Only 18% of women wait until full retirement age of 66 or after to retire.
  • August 2 -- National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR) issues its first-ever press release.
  • August 17 -- Ammunition purchases by Social Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG) draw public attention.
  • September 13 -- Senator Tom Coburn issues report criticizing allowance of Social Security disability claims. The report expresses outrage that disability claims are approved even though some evidence contradicts approval of the claims.
  • October 31 -- The ARC (Association for Retarded Citizens) gives Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue its 2012 President's award for demonstrating a steadfast commitment to addressing the needs of disabled people, an award which astonishes some.
  • November 1 -- Many Social Security field offices in the Northeast are closed due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy.
  • November 8 -- Social Security announces that because of funding cuts its field offices will start closing at noon on Wednesdays beginning in January.
  • November 30 -- Explosion at Arizona Social Security field office. No one is injured.
  • December 12 -- Salvatore Petti, who was Treasurer of Social Security's central office Employees Activities Association for 40 years, is arrested for diverting large sums of money from the Association to support his lavish lifestyle.
  • December 18 -- Two of Commissioner Michael Astrue's initiatives, the secret ALJ policy and the go-it-alone approach to a new occupational information system, collapse as his term draws to a close.
  • December 22 -- Social Security employee reprimanded for excessive flatulence.


Anonymous said...

January 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012. Another year of Charles T. Hall being an advocate for the disabled, and this site being a valuable resource for representatives. Looking forward to a great 2013. Justin

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information and viewpoints you provide

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see the resolution of the adverse evidence issue since the regs are so conflicted and the boys and girls in OGC/etc. haven't come down definitively (Astrue making a remark in testimony is not the official SSA interpretation of the matter). It's especially interesting here in NC since our Bar first said yes, then (after you got involved, I believe) said no, and the only really useful legal discussions of the topic are a couple of law review articles from BYU and Cornell...

obshellums said...

SSA supervisors are too easily offended and are surprisingly unsympathetic to employees' impairments, disabilities and even to accents or tone of voice if that voice is not used to flatter or pander to them as supervisors. As far as getting complaints of other employees for a five page reprimand, much staff can be and is used by supervisors those employees themselves fear. Supervisors use employees for scrutiny and surveillance and make such "duties" known as threats that eventually produce the desired reports, not signed though. Hearsay and third party reportng is accepted by SSA's OCREO to defend management's unwarranted and unreasonable actions. Unfortunately that rather than AFGE representation is the chosen method of protections for SSA support staff who unfortunately fall under the control of SSA's bad office directors or managers that do exist. Such direcors will select supervisors who can have asolutely no knowledge of the SSA regulations relating to benefits, but instead are an HR specialist/bully supervisor-management model which unfortunately are selected to get rid of good workers whose performance can't be attacked, but are disliked by supervisors personally. All such a supervisor must do to get the job is show they are willing to buly, lie, and harrass an employee to achieve a documented progressive discipline without regard for union or government gudes.

It is hell in such an office and SSA has no table of penalties. The term "conduct unbecoming a federal employee" as is too loosely defined by some very sadistic, bitter and hostile supervisors whose offices and functions perform pooly (no coincidence) should not be one SSA can use in its reprimands until SSA management of support staff especially is seriously studied and not be SSA itself.

Anonymous said...

As a manager, the last commenter's stream-of-consciousness rant is a major red flag. Sounds like they have/had some issues at their office and I'm sure they were all management's fault and this person was just a helpless, innocent bystander.

Or they're the farter.