Jun 4, 2015

Social Security Folds

     WYMT-TV reports that "Social Security Administration officials announced Thursday disability benefits for hundreds of Appalachian residents will be restored."


Anonymous said...

So much for the dead ones. At least they will get the $285.00 death benefit..

Anonymous said...

I'm sure this is welcome news to the recipients, but it's a blow to taxpayers. This was never about punishing innocent claimants by "taking away" their benefits. It was about stopping payments that never should have been awarded because they were procured through fraud, regardless of whether the claimants were at fault. What provision of the Social Security Act creates a presumption that people who obtained benefits through fraudulent evidence can also prove that they are disabled through legitimate evidence? If some of these individuals are unable to prove disability without Conn's sham opinions, will they be liable for the overpayment? How will the government collect?

Maybe the answer to all these questions, at least from claimants' reps, is simply "we don't care." But I don't understand the outcry against the SSA in this situation, and I certainly hope people aren't seriously trying to lay suicides on the SSA's doorstep.

Anonymous said...

Saving face to save $$. I'd think so, makes sense.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe the answer to all these questions, at least from claimants' reps, is simply "we don't care." But I don't understand the outcry against the SSA in this situation, and I certainly hope people aren't seriously trying to lay suicides on the SSA's doorstep."

Based on the fact that claimants are known to sometimes kill themselves if a rep refuses to take their case, three suicides from a mass cutoff seems reasonable to me.

You do realize that a number of claimants have severe psychiatric dysfunction in the first place, right?

They often suffer from suicidal ideation and have multiple suicide attempts in the past.

Now, on the flip side, there are also a number of them who suffer from homicidal ideation...and presumably they were somewhat unhappy about this as well.

So, restoring benefits temporarily also protects Social Security employees.

Anonymous said...

7:12 PM,

It's extremely unfortunate that some people feel compelled to end their lives over Social Security benefits. But that doesn't make the SSA legally or morally responsible. By your logic, the SSA should grant benefits (and allow people to keep fraudulently obtained benefits) simply because the recipients might react badly to losing that income. The standard you propose might be convenient for the recipients, their attorneys, and local politicians, but it certainly isn't based on anything you'll find in the Social Security Act.

According to Ned Pillersdorf and Hal Rogers, the SSA should continue doling out benefits because, well, deep pockets. But all the rhetoric about SSA "convicting" innocent beneficiaries and causing suicides and widespread despair is just foolish and irresponsible. What the SSA did in sending out suspension notices was follow its congressional mandate to stop paying benefits that were awarded based on fraudulent applications. Now, in response to political pressure, the SSA is basically acting as a disaster relief fund instead of a disability program.

Maybe that's the most practical solution in this situation - I certainly can't think of one that would make everyone happy. But let's stop pretending that the SSA is the bad guy here. Under the Social Security Act and regulations, these folks were never entitled to disability benefits because they didn't meet their burdens of proving disability through legit evidence. Some may be disabled, but they haven't proven it yet. Every cent they've collected has been in violation of SSA regs, whether they knew what Conn was up to or not. By agreeing not to suspend benefits pending review, the SSA and taxpayers are taking one for the team. Put away the tar and feathers.

Anonymous said...

You cannot just assume that there was fraud in each case without proof. Even assuming that a rep or a doctor did something wrong, there might have been other sufficient evidence for a finding of disability. The humane and fair thing to do here is:

-Don't cut anyone off until there is proof of fraud in their particular claim, and
-That the fraud was material to the finding of disability, giving each a claimant a fair chance to prove that they were then and are now disabled.

Most of the people in question probably rely close to 100% on the income from their disability benefit to survive. Yank that away with hardly any notice or due process and it's totally foreseeable that some will start getting sick and dying as a result. The Social Security Act was designed with humanitarian purposes. I'm glad to see SSA interpreting it that way, and that it changed its mind on this issue. As a taxpayer and a Christian, I am totally OK with my government treating people fairly and humanely, even if that means I pay a few more dollars at tax time.

Anonymous said...

If SSA really took enough time to see that some of the evidence was bogus, they could have also taken the time to see which claimants had non-fraudulent evidence of significant mental issues including depression and suicidal thoughts. Then they could have treated those claimants with a little more care when notifying them that their benefits were being cut-off immediately. Furthermore, the benefits shouldn't even have been cut until fraud had been proven in a court of law. Innocent until proven guilty is still the law of the land!

My guess is that SSA has evidence that ALJ Daugherty was in on the scam and they haven't gone after Conn because it will make SSA look very bad. This story is just getting started...