Jul 31, 2013

Change Reopening Rules?

     From today's Federal Register:
We are requesting information from the public regarding whether and how we should change our rules of administrative finality. These rules govern when we can reopen and revise a determination or decision that has become final and is no longer subject to administrative or judicial review. ...
We are considering changing our rules of administrative finality for a variety of reasons:
  1. We take our responsibility as effective stewards of the trust funds very seriously. Modifying our rules would enable us to take corrective action on more cases, and could decrease the amount of improper payments that we make. 
  2. Our current rules are complex to administer. The fact that our rules under title II and title XVI contain different timeframes for reopening for good cause can result in confusion for our adjudicators and the public, particularly in situations where an individual is concurrently receiving benefits under title II and title XVI of the Act. 
  3. The current rules may prevent us from making changes regardless of the possible outcome for the individual. For example, if an individual presents or we discover new and material evidence after the time period that would allow us to reopen, we cannot take corrective action and revise the determination or decision. Modifying our rules to change certain timeframes for reopening may enable us to take corrective actions on more cases. 
  4. The Office of the Inspector General has recommended that we review our rules on administrative finality to find ways that will allow us to correct more erroneous payments. 
  5. Some of our administrative finality rules have not been revised in sixty years. Over the years, there has been an increase in our workloads and the complexity of our programs. Updating the rules would allow us to reflect these changes. 
  6. Finally, modifying our current rules would enable us to streamline and simplify our rules on administrative finality. We believe this would allow us to operate more efficiently in a challenging, limited-resource environment.


Anonymous said...

Strange that the only specific thing the Agency says is extending the period for reopening in cases involving new and material evidence (clearly a pro-claimant change that won't help the Agency coffers any).

Does anybody here have better Agencyspeak interpretation skills allowing them to see any other specific things SSA is going for here?

Anonymous said...

Interesting. This seems something that may benefit claimants, which is rare for new rules.

My understanding of the reopening rules briefly - within 1 year for any reason, within 2 years for SSI, within 4 years for SSD.

What varies greatly is when ALJs reopen apps. Some do most don't. I know these rules are cost-cutting measures.

But I am wondering if they are going to ease the restrictions to show good cause. Or they may extend the years to reopen an app. It sounds there have been instances where the SSA actually wanted to reopen an app but just couldn't under the strict laws.

This seems like a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Both of the above comments appear to be blissfully unaware if items 4-6 in the proposal. I suggest you read those again, and consider the political context in which they were proposed.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget, this could work in reverse too. Will SSA be able to charge larger overpayments or re-evaluate cases that previously fell under admin fin? Sounds like a double edged sword to me and a way SSA can go after more cases they think are incorrect.

Anonymous said...

It also means that part of the T2 system SSA uses may be able to automate more actions and hopefully reducing the pending workload by being able to make adjustments more than 4 years in the past.

Anonymous said...

It's bad when we read something that could be read as claimant friendly, and our first reaction is...that can't be right.