The Sixty Minutes piece on the Social Security disability programs has run. It didn't seem fair or balanced to me that what I do for a living was represented solely by Binder & Binder and Eric Conn. I don't think that anyone familiar with this field of legal practice thinks that Binder & Binder (which isn't a law firm anyway) or Eric Conn is representative of Social Security attorneys.
I've never had a physician examining claimants in my office. I don't know anyone who does. That arrangement presents obvious credibility problems that seem to me to make doing it worse than useless. Why was this presented as if it were a common practice?
I was displeased to see two Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) trying to throw Social Security disability claimants and their attorneys under the bus -- and the ALJs didn't even get to promote their government representative plan. I hope that they realize that throwing other people under the bus didn't make ALJs look good in anyone's mind.
The biggest problem with the show is that it relied heavily upon Senator Coburn's report saying that he found that many Social Security disability recipients weren't disabled. Coburn's report never revealed who made those determinations that Social Security got it wrong. I think it can be taken for granted that the people making this determination for Coburn had an ax to grind but beyond that is the question of whether they were even familiar with the definition of disability in the Social Security Act and regulations. Clearly, Coburn has only limited familiarity himself. He wanted to emphasize that a claimant should be denied as long as they could do any job. No, it's any job existing in significant numbers in the national economy considering age, education and work experience. This is far from a trivial distinction since consideration of "age, education and work experience" play heavily in most disability determinations. Social Security isn't supposed to deny the claim of a retired coal miner because he can still be a nuclear physicist.
There will be a Senate hearing tomorrow. I hope some Democratic Senators bother to show up and challenge Senator Coburn. I also hope the witness list is balanced, unlike this Sixty Minutes piece.