Jan 29, 2017

Deep Thought

     Are Social Security disability claimants receiving "extreme vetting" already?


Anonymous said...

Hmm...usually in my experience, ALJs will hold any significant travel against claimants in general. So they already have been receiving "extreme vetting" of a sort.

AKM said...

Hi Anonymous,

What do you mean by "significant travel"?

Anonymous said...

Broader but more shallow vetting is what I see. Get someone to testify to activity that could be construed as inconsistent with disability, but don't go into much depth because that might show that it really is consistent with disability. That provides fodder to support a denial if the adjudicator wants that result and the rep is sleeping and doesn't follow up with appropriate questioning.

Anonymous said...


3:19 here. Traveling, even out of state, is generally frowned upon.

If you can sit in a car/plane for 6 hours, why can't you sit at a desk for six hours?

There are a few ways to deal with this; "it was for a medical procedure," "I was lying down," "I had to take breaks every half an hour by pulling off to the side of the road to rest," etc. As long as what you say is true, the judge may look past it, however it really depends on the judge.

Anonymous said...

The key thing to know going into the hearing is this: does the ALJ you are appearing before like to use ADL questions in a genuinely probative manner or merely as a way to help justify a denial. If it is the latter, it is extremely important to ask for clarification of the claimant regarding ADL's (e.g. do you have to take breaks, can you do it all the time, etc).

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

A laundry list of activities performed or not performed provides no basis of support for either an approval or denial without further information about the frequency, quality,and duration of the activity and precisely how the individual performs it. I like to use the example of washing dishes. A claimant could be asked by the ALJ, Do you wash dishes? and the claimant can respond either yes, or no. Neither answer is at all meaningful.

A competent inquiry would include, assuming the answer is no, why not. There could be a whole host of reasons, some disability related and others not.

If the answer is in the affirmative, then we need to know how they are done, how frequently they are done, the quality of the work, the duration of the work, etc. I like to tell my clients that if they simply answer yes to an activity, the ALJ will assume they can perform it all day every day, and if that is not the case then they need to explain it even if the original question was simply a yes or no question.

Anonymous said...

When you look at the conditions and requirements from when the program was started, well no. It should be the compassionate allowances conditions only. Let the private sector work out the rest.

Anonymous said...

Vetting for what?

Anonymous said...


To be disability benefit recipients.


The compassionate allowances were first published in 2008 in order to expedite those cases which are more likely to be found disabled, not establishing a higher standard of disability itself. The fact that they implemented this system establishes you are wrong.

Anonymous said...

I was unclear about Comp Allowances. I think that is all the program needs now. Nothing else.

Originally the dib program was much more restricted, today the rules are too broad, much broader than the programs beginning and it should be taken back to the earlier more restrictive beginning. The responsibility for care falls to the person, family and community. Not state and federal tax money.

Anonymous said...


The program does, and as far as I know always has, considered all "medically-determinable impairments." Actually, the program in some ways has become more restrictive as certain conditions have either been partially excluded (obesity) or fully excluded (substance abuse and alcoholism). Although these changes might appear appropriate, assuming you believe that obesity, substance abuse, and alcoholism are the fault of the individual (and your reference to the responsibility for care falling to the person indicates you do); it is odd once you consider that the individual paid social security taxes their entire life with the belief that they would be covered, and then were told that there social security taxes were effectively stolen. But I digress.

The responsibility for care fell to the person, family, and community and the disabled died in the streets. That is why the Social Security Act was passed. In regard to state and federal tax money, it would be nice if everything was free but we live in a world were things do cost money. If your complaint is implying that disability recipients did not pay state and federal tax money, and they are relying on others for their benefits, you are not covered unless you actually paid social security taxes and your benefits are directly proportional to how much you paid in social security taxes.

Anonymous said...

And anyone with a calculator and the ability to do simple math soon realize the cost of benefits far and away outstrips the amount withheld from a paycheck over even a 30 year period. If you want to go that way, fine, they get back only what they paid in.

Naturally I believe my Social Security taxes are being stolen. They are. My RIB have been moved further and further out, the new threat to move my Medicare and early retirement further and further out mean that I and many others do not get what we were promised. Those are not opinions, those are hard cold facts.

If we are going to hang the cost of healthcare on the individual and the employer, then hang the cost of disability there as well.

Anonymous said...


Reducing RIB payments, or raising the retirement age are equal thefts to raising the bar of disability. Why would it be okay in regard to disability but not retirement? You also suggested people should only get back what they paid in. Your benefits under either retirement or disability are based on what you paid in. These figures are taken from SSA's December 2016 report. There are 44.2 million on retirement benefits and 10.6 million on disability benefits. The average disability payment is $1171.15, while retirement payments average $1314.68. Both of these averages are proportional to whatever the individual paid in social security taxes, prior to becoming disabled or retiring. There are also 8.2 million on supplemental security income, with an average payment of $542.38 per month. The supplemental security income program does not require you pay into it and is meant to address those who are not eligible for disability benefits. This could be due to the fact that they are disabled since birth or did not pay social security taxes for other reasons (housewives). If you are suggesting the supplemental security income program be eliminated, I doubt it would do much good. It costs the least, and has the least recipients.

In short, raising the standards of the retirement program is just as invalid as raising the standards of the disability program. The stress the trust funds are undergoing is due to the skewed ration of those entering into retirement versus those in the workforce due to the baby boom. This ratio will resolve in time. Congress decided to steal from retirees, rather than raise taxes or cut spending from other government programs. Your suggestion that Congress should steal from the disabled does not make it more appropriate or legitimate. If you want to eliminate the supplemental security income program, that might be more legitimate but it seems like the far simpler solution is to cut spending, raise taxes, and/or encourage job growth (deregulate, tax breaks, etc.).