Feb 24, 2015

Spending Too Much Time Reading POMS

     Laurence Kotlikoff has a list of 10 Social Security Rules That Are Insane, excerpts from Social Security's Program Operations Manual Series (POMS):
  • “Even if we caused the (benefits) overpayment, you must show that you are without fault.”
  • Cash benefits for disabled workers end “the month before the month you die.”
  • “The lump-sum payment cannot be paid on the earnings record of a worker who dies in or after the month we receive notice of deportation or removal.”
  • "What does ‘actually paid’ mean? Actual payment occurs when you are actually paid.”
  • “Third parties may assist a claimant when completing the (online) application, but the claimant must be present to select the ‘Submit Now’ button.”
  • “The illegality of an activity does not prevent it from being a trade or business. For example, professional gamblers, bookies, etc. may be engaged in a trade or business. If you’re in this category, you are considered self-employed and are required to report your income and pay self-employment taxes.”
  • “We may always make a new initial determination whenever a change occurs in the factual situation despite how much time elapses from the date of that change.”
  • “The fact that we determine that a claimant meets the requirements for entitlement does not preclude us from making another determination that the claimant no longer meets those requirements at some subsequent date.”
  • “In a disappearance case where the body is not recovered, you must clearly prove the death of the missing person. Submit all available evidence, including: statements of persons having knowledge of the situation; (or) letters or notes left by the missing person that have a bearing on the case.”
  • Social Security representatives are instructed: “Do not attempt to explain the rationale for any particular operational guidelines, nor go to any great lengths to justify them.”
     Remember, it's his list, not mine.


Anonymous said...

The Federal Machine at it's finest.

Anonymous said...

which ones do you think are crazy?

1st, 3rd, 5th, 6th. 7th, 8th and 10th are pretty reasonable. In fact, they are common sense;

1...it's just like contributory negligence. If you are partly to blame, then you can't just blame the agency.

3...why would be pay people who are deported?

5...this avoids people fraudulently filing claims.

6...if you work, it's work.

7...if the facts change, a new decision must be made.

8...if you get disability, then your situation changes, you can be found not disabled.

10...SS personnel don't have the time to learn all the laws. If you want to know about them, call your senator, they wrote them.

Am I missing something. Sure, it's easy to attack SS. It's a huge beauracracy that is sometimes inconsistent, but these rules are fine.

Anonymous said...

The first one make senses if you think about it. Even if SSA made an error in payments, if the beneficiary knew or should have known that the money was not due, the beneficiary is not "without fault" and can be required to repay the overpayment.

The illegality of activity comment may seem funny, but illegal activity performed at SGA can be the basis for a Step 1 denial.

#7&#8 are common-sense. If SSA finds you entitled to benefits at one point, but new facts come to light or facts change, then a new determination can be made.

Anonymous said...

Charles did not post the article by Kotlikoff from which this list was taken, but the joke about #5 is how is SSA going to know who pushed the Submit Now button on an online claim -- the applicant or the applicant's spouse, child, parent, best friend, etc.

Anonymous said...

Oh, trust me, we have ways of knowing who pushed the button....

Anonymous said...

10:57 Nice! You made me laugh out loud.

Anonymous said...

It takes insanity to know insanity.

Anonymous said...

“The fact that we determine that a claimant meets the requirements for entitlement does not preclude us from making another determination that the claimant no longer meets those requirements at some subsequent date.”

Um, isn't this the entire basis of a closed period decision?

Anonymous said...

@ 10:57

Your comment reminded me of a part of Ian Fleming's "Dr. No" which I recently re-read. If my memory serves, one of the ways British Intelligence determined if a transmitted code was being faked by an enemy included the known idiosyncracies of each person in the delays in tapping the buttons.

Anonymous said...

Since a social security check is paid after the close of the month, the rule that says a check is not due for the month of death makes sense. Think about a check arriving after death -- it is generally not due, simplifying life for SSA and the beneficiary.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like SSI may just need to expand their rules to clarify each rule in more detail explanation.

Anonymous said...

Reading these items out of context, they may seem non-sensical or even crazy. But anyone who has used the Program Operations Manual System (not Series)knows that you cannot take statements out of context. All of these statements are based on regulations or law and make sense when considered in their full context.

Anonymous said...

1. It's not like contributory negligence, at least as I understand it. For contributory negligence, there must be a positive finding that there was fault on the Plaintiff’s part. That’s different than a claimant having to prove they are without fault.

10. “SS personnel don’t have the time to learn all the laws”.
No one person knows all the laws. That said, how do expect SS personnel to carry out the laws without knowing them or being able to get an authoritative answer quickly?

Senators don’t write POMS rules.