Nov 30, 2015

Hey, Heritage Foundation, No Problem, As Long As You Treat Me Like Other Businesses

     The Heritage Foundation, a right wing advocacy group, has released an Issue Brief calling for an end to withholding of fees for representation of Social Security disability claimants. Here's an excerpt:
... Direct payment for SSDI [Social Security Disability Insurance] representatives establishes a dangerous standard. If increased access or guaranteed payment is sufficient reason for the government to intervene in private transactions, what will prevent all sorts of additional intrusions by the federal government into individuals’ lives? Should the government also provide direct payment to apartment building owners, car dealerships, and colleges?...
The fact that many service providers find it difficult to collect payment from their clients does not mean that the federal government should become the fee collector. State law provides avenues, such as small claims court, for individuals and businesses to obtain their just due.  ...
     I've got no problem with this, Heritage Foundation, as long as you afford me the same "avenue" afforded other businesses in similar situations -- a lien. Take your car to a car dealership to be repaired and the mechanic has a lien -- meaning the mechanic can hold onto your car until you pay for the repairs. Hire a contractor to make repairs on your house and then don't pay the bill -- the contractor has a lien on your house which can be collected with foreclosure if necessary. Finance purchase of a car and stop making payments on the car -- the lender can send out the repo man since the lender has a lien on the car. Hire an attorney to represent you on a personal injury claim after you're injured because some other driver runs a red light and you get a $25,000 settlement -- you can't just take the money and stiff the attorney because the attorney has a lien on the settlement. 
     The Social Security Act forbids most liens on Social Security payments, preventing the lien that an attorney would otherwise have on the back benefits of a client they represent. The law forbidding liens on Social Security benefits has a prominent exception for federal student loans so, yes, a lender associated with a college can get direct payment from Social Security. There's also an exception for debts owed the federal government and for child support. Want to end those exceptions while you're at it, Heritage?
     Liens are an essential part of our legal system and our whole economy. They date back centuries. They're part of our legal heritage. Without liens much of our modern economy would become impossible. While the Heritage agenda often has an anarchist flavor, I doubt that they want to abolish liens.
     If the anti-assignment provision in the Social Security Act had an exception allowing a lien on back Social Security benefits for claimants represented by an attorney, I've got no problem with doing away with the current attorney fee structure at Social Security. 
     How would an attorney lien on back Social Security benefits work? Social Security would issue a joint check for the back benefits made out to the attorney and client. They would each endorse the check and the attorney would be able to take out his or her part and pay the rest to the client. That's the way it works with personal injury settlements. It works that way because the attorney has a lien on the settlement. Why shouldn't attorneys who represent Social Security claimants have the same legal rights as other attorneys and other businesses generally?
     By the way, take a look at the chart that Heritage included in their piece. It looks like the business of representing Social Security claimants hasn't been too profitable lately anyway.
     Also, by the way, it's past time to adjust the cap on fees under the fee agreement process. It's now $6,000 but should be more than $7,000 if adjusted for inflation. Social Security can slowly achieve Heritage's goal of choking off attorney representation of claimants by leaving the cap at $6,000 indefinitely. In fact, it appears that's what's happening. It's time to lift the cap. The law is intended to allow claimants to have access to representation. Implement the law's intention.

Nov 29, 2015

Taking Bribes To Speed Up Adjudication Of Social Security Disability Claims

     From the Sun Sentinel, one of many newspapers that hides where it's located:
A former claims representative for the Social Security Administration who took money to speed up the benefits process for selected clients was sentenced to four months in jail followed by four months of house arrest Wednesday.
Maria Sanchez, 50, of Pembroke Pines [apparently a town in Florida], was immediately taken into federal custody. She admitted earlier this year that she received between $13,000 and $15,000 in illegal payments in exchange for moving people to the top of the benefits list.
About every three weeks between 2008 and early 2011, when she decided to stop, Sanchez received a green folder that contained five or six Social Security benefits applications and a white envelope that usually contained $500 in $100 bills. The folders were dropped off at Sanchez's office or during meetings in a Hollywood parking lot, investigators said.
Federal prosecutors said Sanchez took money and gave preferential treatment to speed up the application process for clients of Irma Davidian, 52, of Boca Raton. ...

Davidian was the director of American Advisory Associates, a Boca Raton company that advertised it could help applicants obtain government benefits. Davidian has admitted she recruited clients by running ads in a Russian-language newspaper and they paid her to help them apply for assistance. She is scheduled to be sentenced next month. ...
Though Sanchez did not personally approve the benefits and prosecutors said nobody she helped received any benefit they were not entitled to, Sanchez unfairly moved them to the top of the waiting list and moved other people to the bottom.
     It's hard to tell from the article but it looks like Ms. Sanchez was maintaining her "business" on the side while employed at a Social Security field office.

Nov 28, 2015

Hearing Delays Cause Suffering

     From the Associated Press:
Diabetes, arthritis and open-heart surgery have kept Sherice Bennett from working, but she can't afford her medicine and became homeless while waiting for more than two years for a chance to convince a judge that she qualifies for federal disability benefits.
Maria Ruiz also is waiting to appeal her denial; meanwhile, she's been in and out of psychiatric wards since being diagnosed as bipolar, and hasn't been able to buy her meds since August.
Still others die waiting. One man had already been dead for two months this summer before his request for a hearing reached the desk of Miami Judge Thomas Snook. He ultimately approved the claim and the man's spouse will collect his benefits.
 Overburdened administrative judges are working through huge caseloads of these appeals all over America, but Miami has the country's longest average wait for a hearing, at 22 months. And while they wait, many slip into poverty, burdening their families and dragging down the economy. ...
Delays in other cities are nearly as bad: Brooklyn, New York; Spokane, Washington; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Fort Myers, Florida, have 20-month waits. Atlanta, Charlotte, North Carolina, Cincinnati, Baltimore and Chattanooga, Tennessee, are close behind with 19 months. The shortest wait time is eight months in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The national average is about one year and four months, according to the Social Security Administration, and petitioners typically wait another four to five months for a decision after the hearing. ...
The agency's current goal is to reduce the wait to 270 days or less by 2020. A pre-hearing triage program has begun, and the hiring of 400 more judges is planned by 2018.

Poor Education And High Rates Of Disability Go Hand In Hand

Nov 27, 2015

Nov 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Nov 25, 2015

List Of Sanctioned Represetatives

     Social Security has recently released a long list of attorneys and claimant representatives who have been barred from practicing before the agency because of misconduct. Note that the list goes back many years. Also note that the list doesn't include the name of Eric Conn.

Nov 24, 2015

First Sign Of Re-Recons

     I heard today of a claimant's request for hearing being diverted to an "informal remand" review, also called re-recon. This is an effort to get strong disability claims approved without the long wait for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. This has been done in the past to help deal with the hearing backlog. 
     I have no idea how many of these will be done or what the criteria will be. I would caution that Social Security's Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) has been doing Senior Attorney reviews, which are somewhat similar to re-recons, in the last few years but they have amounted to almost nothing because so few reviews have been done and because they have been done under such restricted standards that few claims could be approved. The Senior Attorney reviews done in recent years may have been a waste of staff time. We'll have to see if the agency has gotten past its fears of being accused of "paying down the backlog."

ALJ Productivity Has Plummeted

Nov 23, 2015

One Backlog Soars While Other Backlogs Improve -- A Reflection Of Agency Priorities?

     Also, Social Security dramatically improved its telephone service as the hearing backlogs soared.
     The Acting Commissioner can say she's really concerned about the hearing backlog and that the agency is working hard to reduce it but the numbers suggest that it hasn't been a priority.

Nov 22, 2015

Utah Man Tried To Carry Explosive Device Into Social Security Hearing

     A man was arrested in Salt Lake City on Thursday after carrying an explosive device into a federal building. He had come to the building for a Social Security hearing.

Nov 21, 2015

NADE Newsletter

     The National Association of Disability Examiners (NADE), an organization of the personnel who make initial and reconsideration determinations on Social Security disability claims, has issued its Fall 2015 newsletter.

Nov 20, 2015

Replacement Social Security Cards To Be Available Online

     From the Washington Post:
... The Social Security Administration on Thursday announced that Americans who need a replacement [Social Security] card will soon be able to apply for the document online. The process will work for basic card replacements. ...
The program will roll out slowly, first in Wisconsin and Washington state, before spreading to several other states and D.C. ...

Merry Christmas

Looks Like This Plan Didn't Work

     In an effort to make it more difficult for claimants to object to video hearings, Social Security adopted new rules on June 25, 2014 requiring claimants to object to a video hearing shortly after asking for a hearing, long before they would know whether the agency would actually want to schedule a video hearing for them. The agency expected this would increase video hearings from 28% to 30% of their cases. See the table below from Social Security's Financial Report for 2015 for what actually happened. You may have to click on the table to be able to read it.

Nov 19, 2015

A Message To OIG

     I have asked to receive e-mail notification from Social Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG) when they issue new reports.  In the last couple of weeks I've started receiving this message whenever I try to access one of their reports:
This Connection is Untrusted

You have asked Firefox to connect securely to, but we can't confirm that your connection is secure.

Normally, when you try to connect securely, sites will present trusted identification to prove that you are going to the right place. However, this site's identity can't be verified.
What Should I Do?

If you usually connect to this site without problems, this error could mean that someone is trying to impersonate the site, and you shouldn't continue.

This site uses HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) to specify that Firefox only connect to it securely. As a result, it is not possible to add an exception for this certificate.
     What have you got against Firefox, OIG? Maybe I should ask, what's wrong with your security, OIG? In any case, if OIG wants users of Firefox, which is a lot of people, to access its reports, it's going to have to get its internet act together. Apart from OIG, I don't know that I've ever seen this message, so OIG, you've really gone out of your way to be inaccessible.

More Than 600 Commit Suicide In Britain As Result Of Disability Reviews

     Recipients of social security disability benefits in the United Kingdom are being subjected to "work capability assessments" and many are being cut off benefits. Researchers at the universities of Oxford and Liverpool have done a study showing that there is an increased risk of suicide among those subjected to these "work capacity assessments." There may have been more than 600 extra suicides as a result of the "work capacity assessments" done so far.

Nov 18, 2015

US Attorneys Don't Think Much Of OIG's Referrals For Criminal Prosecution

From Social Security's Financial Report for 2015. OIG is Social Security's Office of Inspector General

Nov 17, 2015

Did This Court Understand What Social Security Is Doing To Eric Conn's Former Clients

     From the ruling in the case brought against the Social Security Administration (SSA) by Eric Conn's former clients:
... During the appeals process, however, the plaintiffs can challenge the SSA’s determination that fraud might have been involved in their applications for benefits. ...[T]he plaintiffs know exactly what the SSA is doing and can challenge the suspicion of fraud during the appeals process ...
     However, Social Security's staff instructions say that "... the claimant may not appeal the agency's statutory mandate to disregard evidence based on OIG [Office of Inspector General] referrals of information ..." How is a claimant going to challenge the finding of fraud when Social Security's staff instructions say that finding can't be challenged? Did this court understand what is going on?

Nov 16, 2015

Setback In Kentucky And West Virginia

     A motion for preliminary injunction was filed to prevent the Social Security Administration from going ahead with its plan to make almost 1,500 Social Security disability recipients in Kentucky and West Virginia who had been represented by Eric Conn prove all over again that they are disabled. After what I consider an extraordinary delay the District Court has denied the motion. The agency is free to continue with its plan without making any showing of evidence that there was fraud or similar fault involved in these claimants being awarded benefits. Everyone will just assume the evidence exists.
     I would remind everyone who is sure that there must be strong evidence of fraud or similar fault that no criminal charges have been brought against Mr. Conn, no disciplinary action has been brought against him by the Kentucky Bar and he is still free to represent claimants before the Social Security Administration. How can that be if the evidence against him is strong? Charges aren't true just because you saw them on 60 Minutes. And no one has accused these claimants of doing anything wrong. They just hired the wrong lawyer.

Should I Worry About My Clients Being Thrown Into This Briar Patch?

     The Clinical Neuropsychologist, a scientific journal, has published Official Position of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology Social Security Administration Policy on Validity Testing: Guidance and Recommendations for Change. This is their summary of the paper:
The milestone publication by Slick, Sherman, and Iverson (1999) of criteria for determining malingered neurocognitive dysfunction led to extensive research on validity testing. Position statements by the National Academy of Neuropsychology and the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology (AACN) recommended routine validity testing in neuropsychological evaluations. Despite this widespread scientific and professional support, the Social Security Administration (SSA) continued to discourage validity testing, a stance that led to a congressional initiative for SSA to reevaluate their position. In response, SSA commissioned the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to evaluate the science concerning the validation of psychological testing. The IOM concluded that validity assessment was necessary in psychological and neuropsychological examinations (IOM, 2015 ). Objective : The AACN sought to provide independent expert guidance and recommendations concerning the use of validity testing in disability determinations. Method : A panel of contributors to the science of validity testing and its application to the disability process was charged with describing why the disability process for SSA needs improvement, and indicating the necessity for validity testing in disability exams. Results : This work showed how the determination of malingering is a probability proposition, described how different types of validity tests are appropriate, provided evidence concerning non-credible findings in children and low-functioning individuals, and discussed the appropriate evaluation of pain disorders typically seen outside of mental consultations. Conclusions : A scientific plan for validity assessment that additionally protects test security is needed in disability determinations and in research on classification accuracy of disability decision.
     I notice that this is the "Official Position" of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology but it makes reference to the National Academy of Neuropsychology. In addition there are the American Board of Professional Psychology which certifies neuropsychologists, the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology, the International Neuropsychological Society and the Society for Clinical Neuropsychology. There aren't that many neuropsychologists in the U.S. There may not be 50 in my state, North Carolina. Why do neuropsychologists have so many professional organizations? What is the standing of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology? I don't know. I can say that one of the eight co-authors of this "Official Position" derives at least part of his income from one of the tests that the authors of this report recommend. That's revealed at the end of the report itself. I can also say that widespread use of validity testing by Social Security would create a lot of business for psychologists. It doesn't prove that what they're saying is wrong but it is best to keep in mind that the financial interest of some psychologists is at stake here.
     You might expect me to oppose validity testing but I'm not sure what to think. If anything, I suspect it might help claimants. As a practical matter, at the initial and reconsideration levels of review of Social Security disability claims, Social Security is applying a near conclusive presumption that claimants alleging disability due to pain, intellectual disability or mental illness are malingering. Those claims aren't being approved at those levels except in the most extreme cases. It's not quite like that when these cases get before Administrative Law Judges but there's still a significant bias against claimants who have these problems. I suspect that many claimants who complain of pain, intellectual disability or mental illness would test out as "valid" on the tests being recommended and would be approved more quickly.
     I'm old enough to have been around when the grid regulations were introduced. There was great fear then that those regulations would result in fewer disability claims being approved. What actually happened was that more disability claims were approved.
     Should I worry about my clients being thrown into this briar patch?

Nov 14, 2015

Gotta Go After That Waste, Fraud And Abuse

     From The Columbian:
MEDFORD, Ore. — Wanda Ames was elated when she received a letter from the Social Security Administration over what she thought was a one-time increase on her disability check. 
“At first I was happy,” the 56-year-old Medford woman said. “I thought they were giving me extra money. I thought I was going to get 260 extra dollars.” 
For someone who lives on $766 a month from Social Security plus $350 for food stamps, the small windfall would have been a big help, especially as she worries that she and her husband may lose their modest west Medford house because they can’t afford the payments. Her 55-year-old husband, Michael, is unemployed and looking for work. 
But when Ames read the Sept. 30 letter a little more carefully, she discovered she actually owed Social Security $260.40, apparently as the result of a payment made to her mother when Ames was a child more than 40 years ago. 
The letter from Social Security warned her that her December check would be reduced, which she said would be a major blow to her pocketbook.
“If it isn’t one bomb, it’s another,” she said. 
Ames, who has spinal arthritis and other health issues, found out she’s not the only one to receive letters from Social Security about decades-old bills. 
“Of course, it’s not an isolated situation,” said Dorothy Clark in the Social Security press office. Clark said she didn’t have specifics on the number of letters the agency has sent out for back payments.
     The law requires that Social Security do this. Congressional Republicans seem to lack interest in changing the law.

In Memory

Nov 13, 2015

What's Ahead On The Budget Front?

     My understanding is that the Bipartisan Budget Agreement recently passed by Congress and signed into law by the President will allow total domestic discretionary spending, which includes Social Security's administrative budget, that will be almost identical to the total provided for by the President's proposed budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, which began on October 1, 2015. 
     The Bipartisan Budget Agreement just sets the total amount for all domestic agencies. The amount each agency gets must be determined by individual appropriations acts. Those are still to come. Social Security and other agencies are currently operating on a continuing funding resolution which runs for about another month.
     The President's budget proposal can only be a rough guide for what to expect when an appropriation is finally passed but Social Security's administrative budget isn't a contentious matter so the President's budget may not be too far off what is to come. The President's proposal was for about a 5% increase in Social Security's operating budget, taking it to $12.8 billion. This contrasts with $11.8 billion in the House appropriations bill and $11.6 billion in the Senate appropriations bill that were under consideration prior to the Bipartisan Budget Agreement.
     My hope is that the Social Security Administration will use as much of the extra money as possible to hire new employees. I know that it takes time to hire and train new employees. Every time the agency hires new people I wince because I know they're going to make mistakes which will take time to correct. Using overtime would reduce, or perhaps I should say, stabilize backlogs more quickly. However, the agency needs more employees for the long haul. We keep going through a boom and bust cycle every year. Part of the year there's little or no overtime. Backlogs go up. Part of the year there's money for overtime and backlogs go down or at least hold steady. On the whole, backlogs keep rising. This can't keep going on. I know that agency management worries about having to furlough new employees but how likely is that? Appropriators seem to try hard to avoid furloughs. Really, which politician wants to be responsible for furloughs at Social Security? The agency would function so much better with several thousand more employees.

Nov 12, 2015

Social Security Headcount Climbs Back To 2012 Level

     The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has just posted updated figures for the number of employees at the Social Security Administration as of the end of the second quarter of 2015:
  • June 2015 65,666
  • March 2015 64,432
  • December 2014 65,430
  • September 2014 64,684
  • June 2014 62,651
  • March 2014 60,820
  • December 2013 61,957
  • September 2013 62,543
  • June 2013 62,877
  • March 2013 63,777
  • December 2012 64,538
  • September 2012 65,113
  • September 2011 67,136
  • December 2010 70,270
  • December 2009 67,486
  • September 2009 67,632
  • December 2008 63,733
  • September 2008 63,990

Nov 11, 2015

Veterans Day 2015

Nov 10, 2015

Senator Cotton Has A Theory

     From Raw Story:
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) suggested on Monday that population decline and drug abuse in poor areas could be the result of too many people on Social Security disability.
Speaking to the conservative Heritage Foundation on Monday, Cotton warned that communities with high a percentage of residents on Social Security disability had reached a tipping point that was linked to population decline. But he said that communities which used fewer benefits were enjoying a population increase.  
“It’s hard to say what came first or caused the other, population decline or increased disability usage,” Cotton opined. “Or maybe economic stagnation caused both. Regardless, there seems to be at least at the county and regional level something like a disability tipping point.”
“When a county hits a certain level of disability usage, disability becomes a norm,” he continued. “It becomes an acceptable way of life and alternative source of income to a good paying full-time job as opposed to a last resort safety net program to deal with catastrophic injury and illness.”
     The are at least a couple of problems with Cotton's theory. First, the incidence of disability in the U.S. has been going down, not up. If Social Security disability is responsible for population decline and drug abuse, you'd think those problems would be getting better, not worse. Second, U.S. Social Security disability benefits are stingy compared to those in other developed countries yet those other countries are not experiencing the ills that Cotton blames on Social Security disability.
     Cotton is certainly right that there are many rural areas of the country with a high incidence of disability. My firm represents many Social Security disability claimants who live in such areas in North Carolina. Let me suggest a theory to explain what is going on in these rural areas. Manufacturing has gone to hell in this country. Also, there are far fewer jobs in agriculture and mining. These economic changes have hit rural areas hard. There has been population decline in those areas as younger, healthy people have moved to other areas of the country to find jobs. Those left behind are older and sicker. They have poor access to health care. A high incidence of Social Security disability claims is to be expected. This country has a serious problem with opioid abuse but it's a national problem which is not caused by Social Security disability benefits since those benefits are not paid for drug abuse.
     We need to be working hard as a nation to restore manufacturing jobs and to deal with opioid abuse instead of looking for scapegoats.

Nov 6, 2015

Ticket To Work Is A Failure

     From the Social Security Bulletin (emphasis added):
The Social Security Administration (SSA) rolled out the Ticket to Work (TTW) program between 2002 and 2004, with goals of expanding employment-related services for disability program beneficiaries and increasing program exits for work. Provider and beneficiary participation were initially low and the program did not measurably increase the extent to which beneficiaries achieved earnings sufficient to forgo benefits. In 2008, SSA revised the regulations in order to make participation more attractive to service providers, but the revisions also reduced provider incentives to help beneficiaries give up their benefits for work. Using administrative data from SSA, we find that provider and beneficiary participation increased substantially after the regulations changed, but the percentage of participants forgoing benefits for work declined. The extent to which that decline reflects the effects of the recession versus an increase in TTW program use by those with a relatively low chance of forgoing benefits for work remains unclear.

Nov 5, 2015

Why $11 Billion In Overpayments Is Pretty Good

     From the Federal Eye column in the Washington Post:
[The Government Accountability Office] reported that, from 2005-2014, the Social Security Disability Insurance program overpaid $11 billion to beneficiaries who earned too much money to qualify for full benefits. An untrained observer might think this represented an unconscionable squandering of public funds.  ...
But on the first page of the report, GAO notes that SSA paid out approximately $143 billion in disability benefits in 2014 alone. SSA’s own actuarial estimates put the total ten-year outlay from 2005-2014 at $1.169 trillion, compared to $11 billion in overpayments. That’s less than 1 percent of total expenditures.
Furthermore, all $11 billion wasn’t lost to the government. SSA can claw back overpayments from disability beneficiaries in subsequent years. In fact, GAO reveals on page 9 of its report that SSA collected $7.8 billion in outstanding debt in the ten-year time frame. Only $1.4 billion in work-related overpayments were completely written off. Now we’re down to 0.12 percent of total expenditures. ...
If I were to tell you that the Social Security disability program was 99.88 percent accurate in issuing benefit amounts to recipients, you might think they were doing an outstanding job. But if I told you the program overpaid by $11 billion – while neglecting to mention how they clawed most of it back – you might dust off your pitchfork and join your local mob’s march to the nearest SSA satellite office. ...
The drumbeat of stories about stray billions lost here and spent there serves the side of our national debate that wants to reduce the size of government and privatize many of its functions. They’re given an artificial boost by reporting which flatters their prejudices. It’s hard to advocate for expanding social benefits amid inaccurate tales of waste. And this can have real consequences. ...
[L]ast week’s budget deal creates roving Cooperative Disability Investigations units, special Justice Department prosecutors and expanded reviews to look into suspected fraud. The changes result directly from the insistence of Congressional Republicans, aided by the media, that the disability program is rife with fraud.
But the budget deal’s reforms sound like something you would invest in to police a broken agency, not one with a 99.88 percent accuracy rate. Any private-sector company with a record as sterling as the disability program would be lauded as an industry model. But thanks to the massive amount of money they pump out on an annual basis, they can be demonized for minor slippages.
     And let's not forget to mention the active collusion of the GAO and Social Security's Office of Inspector General with Republican efforts to present overpayment information in a misleading way.

Nov 4, 2015

Colvin On Leadership

    Tom Fox of the Washington Post recently interviewed the Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Carolyn Colvin, on the subject of leadership.

Nov 3, 2015

I Can't Access OIG Website Due To Security Problem

     I received an e-mail notification that Social Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG) has issued an audit report on Social Security Administration Employees with Conduct Issues Who Received Monetary Award. The title sounds interesting. However, when I try to access the report, I get this message:
This Connection is Untrusted

You have asked Firefox to connect securely to, but we can't confirm that your connection is secure.
Normally, when you try to connect securely, sites will present trusted identification to prove that you are going to the right place. However, this site's identity can't be verified.
What Should I Do?

If you usually connect to this site without problems, this error could mean that someone is trying to impersonate the site, and you shouldn't continue.

This site uses HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) to specify that Firefox only connect to it securely. As a result, it is not possible to add an exception for this certificate. uses an invalid security certificate.

The certificate is not trusted because it is self-signed.

(Error code: sec_error_unknown_issuer)
     See if you can get in.

Congressional Hearing Tomorrow

     The Joint Economic Committee of Congress has scheduled a hearing for tomorrow afternoon (November 4) at 2:30 on Ensuring Success for the Social Security Disability Insurance Program and Its Beneficiaries. The scheduled witnesses are:
  • Patrick O’Carroll, Jr., Inspector General Social Security Administration
  • Mark Duggan, the Trione Director of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and the Wayne and Jodi Cooperman Professor of Economics Stanford University
  • Rebecca Vallas, Director of Policy for the Poverty to Prosperity Program Center for American Progress

EAJA Payments In Social Security Cases Increasing Rapidly

     Social Security has recently released information on payments it has made under the Equal Access of Justice Act (EAJA), which shifts the cost of attorney fees to the government in some cases where a claimant is the prevailing party in a civil action in the federal courts. Here are the numbers
2010 $19,743,189.12
2011 $21,668,646.47
2012 $24,666,171.13
2013 $27,720,951.87
2014 $31,637,462.36

Nov 2, 2015

29% Opting Out Of Video Hearings

     Social Security has released information on claimants who are opting out of video hearings. This year 29.25% are opting out, which is a lot less than I thought it would be. In my opinion, it's a lot less than it should be.

Nov 1, 2015

Take The Test

     Money Magazine has an online quiz so you can "Test Your Social Security IQ." I'm proud to say I answered all the questions correctly.