Sep 26, 2014

Pete Peterson's Project To Cut Social Security Disability Asks For Proposals

     The Pete Peterson "project" to cut Social Security disability benefits, fronted by former Congressmen McCrery and Pomeroy, has put out a call for proposals for "innovative ideas to improve" Social Security disability benefits. The "project" has listed a number of suggested topics but nothing about removing the cap on the F.I.C.A. tax or transferring monies between Social Security's Trust Funds. The deadline for submitting proposals is November 1, suggesting that the "project" already knows which proposals it's interested in and is already committed to paying people to write those proposals. Proposals from others won't get funding and are unlikely to be published.
     This isn't about improving Social Security disability. It's about using the possible funding shortfall in the Disability Trust Fund as a pretext for cutting Social Security disability benefits. This "project" is designed to place a bipartisan veneer over a right wing plan to cut disability benefits.


Anonymous said...

There are measures SSA can do to tighten overall program funding including retirement.

#1. Add an additional definition for the disability program which does not include cash/health insurance benefits. This would be a lifetime designation for anyone who obtains gainful employment after being declared disabled. If the person loses employment based on their previous impairments,that person is automatically disabled again.

#2. Replace the SSA ALJ CORP with DDS type of disability examiners who will allow claimants or representatives to address all issues before a denial. These $40,000 adjudicators are cost and program effective compared to their $165,000 ALJ counterparts. SSA administrators ask yourself"Do we need $165,000 ALJ adjudicators"?

Anonymous said...

DDS only pays its doctors 40k? That's a great deal. Or do you mean that you could pay a GS-5 to hold hearings and produce decisions that wouldn't cause a district court judge to vomit in his/her mouth. If you want GS-5 hearing officers, you're going to have to support statutorily cutting off recourse to federal court for claimants.

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Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Agree with the idea that replacing the SSA ALJ CORP would save money. What a waste to be paying thousands of lawyers (which is all ALJs are) $165000 + all the government benefits to decide disability insurance claims. College grads could do the same work for less money.

Anonymous said...


It depends on what you want. If you want a lot of adjudications done cheaply with little regard for accuracy, then your idea is great.

If you want accuracy, then you need the ALJs. Sorry, but kids with bachelors degrees aren't going to correctly apply the complex legal, medical, and vocational concepts needed to make the right call on these claims.

Anonymous said...

@9:57 PM, September 28, 2014

Explain why a DDS examiner makes the same decisions as an ALJ except for alot less salary?

Credibility can be assessed from facts not a personal appearance so an ALJ can determine whether or not the claimant is worthy of benefits based on what he/she subjectively sees and or bias.

Logic suggest ALJS are costly and not needed. It has always been part of wasteful government spending. But ODAR Attorney writers are needed for court review.

I wrote the first comment.

Anonymous said...

@ 6:27

They don't make the same the same "decisions." In fact, they don't make decisions at all--they make determinations. Yes, they can make favorable decisions and unfavorable decisions, but if you knew the first thing about SSA law procedure and Federal case law (i.e., what courts have determined regarding the weight given to determinations vs. decisions, etc.) you'd know that the determinations made at DDS are not at all the same as decisions made by ALJs.

Anonymous said...

Do you have any idea as to how much Monica Lowinski was paid?? Or how about your part time Congress, or you lazy butt golf C in C??? Get real. The ALJ's are the only ones earning their keep in the Agency.

Anonymous said...

(this is 9:57 responding)

I don't disrespect either the DDS adjudicators or the ALJs for doing their jobs. I would describe what they do as a winnowing process. DDS does the preliminary sorting. A significant number of obviously meritorious claims which are sufficiently developed get approved there. That's an important task that needs doing. However, plenty of legitimately disabled people are turned down at DDS, either due to lack of development, failure to fully consider the vocational impact of complex combinations of impairments, and other reasons.

At the ALJ level the more fine sorting takes place. When ALJs do it right, claims that needed greater development and more detailed consideration get the attention needed to make the right call. A good ALJ needs to bring together a lot of knowledge about medicine, the law, and vocational considerations, and then diligently apply it to difficult fact patterns.

My point is you that need highly skilled people to do that right. A DDS only model would result in denial of disability benefits for many thousands of people who truly could not work, with tragic results.