Aug 29, 2017


     Based on an Emergency Message that the Social Security Administration has sent out to its staff, it looks as if between September 2016 and March 2017 the agency failed to notify some or all beneficiaries in the following situations: 
  • Beneficiary is no longer disabled (cessation).
  • Beneficiary is no longer entitled to disability benefits or payments on the current application (adverse reopening).
  • Beneficiary received erroneous payments after a decision of denial (overpayment).  
  • Social Security changes the onset date to a later date. 
  • Social Security changes the cessation date to an earlier date.
     Failure to send notice means that the beneficiaries had no idea why their benefits had stopped or that they could appeal.
     The Emergency Message tells Social Security staff that  "If the beneficiary alleges he or she did not receive a notice during the relevant period, technicians should take the allegations seriously, carefully review the case and provide due process as required by existing regulations and agency policy."
     The Emergency Message says nothing about the agency sending belated notices to the beneficiaries affected. Maybe, they're going to send out the notices. They certainly should.
     By the way, I saw instances of this happening. I thought it was isolated errors rather than a systems problems. I expect that many thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of claimants were affected.


Tim Kennedy said...

Oh boy, another screw up that will result i massive amounts of do-opver work by SSA and the DDSs. I can understand a few mistakes, but thousands? Not good.

Anonymous said...

As I recall, don't most of the statutory deadlines for appeal relate to the receipt of the notice by the claimant/beneficiary? This seems like more than just a procedural issue.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, SSA, for ensuring further job security.


Anonymous said...

This is not the same agency I once knew and worked for. Years ago an EM of this type would have stated clearly something like: "We are aware that because of a processing/contractor/clerical/etc. error, a number of beneficiaries were not properly notified that...."

In this EM, there is not only no explanation of how it happened, but WHAT happened. There's not even an admission that the agency failed to notify anybody.

There's no excuse for this lack of accountability and responsibility.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a software problem. These things are going to happen from time to time. Compared to the number of things the agency did right during the time period of months it is an acceptable error rate that most corporations would be proud of.

Think of all the new card requests, deaths, new applications, retirements, identity issues, retirement payments, disability payments, Medicare applications, LIS, and other day to day business that happens. The agency will clean it up, it always does.

And cue the hate speech from people who really don't know any more than anyone else in

Anonymous said...

The claimants more often than not don't bother appealing until the check stops. Then they say the never got the cessation notice. This time, it looks like some of them may be telling the truth!

Anonymous said...

RE 3:25 -- Your defensiveness is unnecessary because you are missing the point entirely. The problem with the EM is not that there may have been human error or even a software problem. Of course those things happen. That's the normal course of doing business in and out of government.

The problem I had was with wording of the EM. It doesn't even admit that some beneficiaries and recipients may have not received a notice.

SSA employees and the public deserve better. It represents sloppy DCO/OPSOS work at the highest level.

Anonymous said...

This what hapens when the IT dept. is not on the same page as management. Guarantee you IT updated the system back during fiscal year tape swap because od so many edits to the S.S. database. Keep in mind 350 million Americans SS numbers to update from birth to death. With people bailing it's got to be an impossible task. This is a database update issue that did not get discovered till someone pointed out to IT...hey we got a lot of calls about folks not getting paid...6 months later!

Disability Advocate said...

Can anyone tell me if this notice would also apply in a situation where a SSI claimant never received a decision from the SSA on their initial claim? Then found out they were denied and outside of the 60 day time frame to file a reconsideration?