Dec 28, 2016

The Human Costs

Donna Dye, a former client of Eric Conn
     The Associated Press is reporting on the human costs of Social Security's big effort to cut off the disability benefits of Eric Conn's former clients. All along it's seemed that the hundreds of people involved were no more than ciphers to those who were so eager to label them as frauds, cut off their benefits and stack the deck against them. The question I've had all along has been why is Social Security going to such lengths to hurt these people when the agency admits they did nothing wrong. It's perfectly obvious at ground level that these folks are sick and most would have won without any of Eric Conn's alleged shenanigans.


Anonymous said...

SSA ends up n a no win here on the Conn situation. Approve them and it "proves" what the trumply believe, that the whole system is a fraud and SSA is just giving benefits away to the lazy. Deny them and you are a heartless agency bent on killing off the most needy among us. No way to win.

Anonymous said...

"It's perfectly obvious at ground level that these folks are sick and most would have won without any of Eric Conn's alleged shenanigans.".

While I am no fan of how the Agency handled the redeterminations of these claims, the above statement seems overly broad. I think that about 50% received favorable decisions, with many having the assistance of counsel. This is pretty much in line with the national average for claims at the ODAR level. "Perfectly obvious" that they would have won originally? I think not.

Anonymous said...

exactly, 11:49

It sucks that innocent people were hurt but yall seem to have expected SSA to somehow go after Conn, clean everything up, but not touch any (wrongly gotten, sometimes undeserved completely) money his clients received as a result of that scheme. Like 11:49 pointed out, had SSA done that, we'd be halfway privatized by now after Congressional Republicans lost their minds over it.

Dot,gov said...

The flashy advertisements of the Conn organization should have alerted some claimants that things were not exactly above board. But it should also have doubly alerted SSA and the bar association.

Tim said...

The REAL "Conn" is how Coburn, Cotten and company have used this to claim, "Fraud is rampant, fraud is rampant!" They would have you believe that Eric Conn recruited thousands of healthy people in an elaborate scheme to defraud the government. People that clearly NEVER would have qualified! However, I think it is much more accurate to describe this whole thing as "greasing the rails." In politics, when you want favorable outcomes, you make contributions to the right campaigns. Conn found at least one ALJ that had a common goal: approve/decide as many cases as possible with the least effort! Meanwhile, Conn found doctors willing to fill out RFC forms "correctly" and kept a flow of patient$ coming in.

I am sure many want to throw out those doctors' opinions as bought and paid for! Well, so are the ME and VE "opinions." How can THEY be trusted to be impartial when their livlihood depends on them NOT being impartial?

The real truth here is that Daugherty, based upon his approval rates, would have approved of most of Conn's cases anyway!

Anonymous said...

3:00 PM

Your reasoning is flawed. Conn would have kicked a Dr. to the curb if they didn't issue disabling RFC opinions. Find me an independent AMS that does CEs or acts as an ME who has been pressured WHATSOEVER by SSA to be more OR less friendly to claimants. (DDS AMSs, now that's a different story since they are actually employees)

But literally nobody talks to CE providers or MEs about anything other than to stop losing CDs so often, answer interrogatories more quickly, sign up for the ARS/ERE pilot, and please fill out the RFC stuff we asked for in addition to your narrative. Period.

Anonymous said...

@11:49 Because important evidence is being disregarded in the readjudications I don't think you can state that similar win percentages to the national average approval rate means no harm. In most cases it is too late to get other evidence to plug the hole left by that disregarded evidence. It's similar to asking a prosecutor to retry a case when an important witness and key evidence missing. They're going to lose cases that otherwise would have been won.

Anonymous said...

I understand that disability statements from four doctors have been disregarded, and that the affected claimants have not been allowed to challenge the finding that those doctors were frauds. What I don't understand is what it would actually look like if SSA allowed the claimants to dispute the fraud findings. Would the claimant go through the criminal investigation reports discussing the doctors' treatment of other patients and say, no, this is all wrong? Take Dr. Adkins. He testified that he signed disability forms that Conn prefilled. Even if the claimants testify now that they personally received thorough examinations from Dr. Adkins, how would that help their cases when Dr. Adkins has admitted that his opinions were bogus?

Are these lawsuits just a stall tactic to keep the welfare checks coming or is there actually a legit argument for keeping evidence from the suspected frauds in the record?

Anonymous said...

Aren't they throwing out all the records, not just the opinions, of those doctors? If that's the case, then the new ALJ hearing the claim must disregard more than just opinion evidence. The claimant's report of symptoms, the physician's observations on physical exam, clinical tests, etc., will all be disregarded. Those claimants can't jump into a time machine and go back and have a different doctor take their symptom reports and do those physical exams and clinical tests for those dates. That means there is a gap in medical documentation. Gaps like that tend to cause claims be denied, regardless of whether the person really could perform SGA. The question of whether the information in such records was correct or false should be a disputable fact. ALL the information in the records.