I thought I would post some actual notes made in my firm's database recently concerning four different clients:
1) I called PC 3 [Payment Center 3, in Birmingham, AL] again [to ask why a client who was approved several months ago hasn't yet been paid], rings twice then drops. ridiculous. I checked internet to make sure I had most current #, I do. I called a different mod [part a payment center] to see if they would transfer me. on hold now. The guy who answered says # is correct. He can't get through either. Says computer says something was done 12/6/17 but all it says is diaried for mid January. They won't tell me anything until then. Why not? I did tell him fee was already approved, they don't need to fu [follow up] on that. Do that have that? He says, "oh, yes." He tried to transfer me, again rang twice and dropped.
2) t/c [telephone call] to John at Payment Center [to ask why a client who was approved several months ago hasn't yet been paid] - sat on hold for over 45 mintues to talk to someone. Called back several times this am and could get NO ONE to answer.
3) 10/12/17-attempted tc w/PC [about another client who hasn't yet been paid] (205 801-4430), still no answer. ...
10/17/17-attempted tc again w/PC, let it ring until line disconnected.
11/01/17-attempted tc w/PC (and several other x's not entered), still no answer and disconnects.
11/02/17-tc w/the main PC, they gave me a different #. When I try that one, they refer me back to the 1 I was called to begin with. Please!! Now I have a mgr's #. But of course, no answer there. ...
4) [Called] PC 3 205-801-3680. - says vm is full, transferring to attendant then says "fowarded to a vm system" and keeps repeating that cycle. Can't leave vm. I tried several different times during the day today
5) I have been calling different mods at PC 3 for 2 weeks. I cannot get anyone to answer at all. Last week, a different mod in PC3 told me that one particular MOD was having phone issues. Today, I literally called all 14 numbers (including the mod I called and spoke to last week). 12 of them rang until it disconnected. 1 recording said all agents are busy then said transferring to voicemail (but didn’t actually transfer me) and 1 is just crazy, bounces call around to several places without anyone ever picking up.I could copy many more such notes but you get the picture. Social Security's payment centers, where benefits other than Supplemental Security Income are computed and authorized, are often almost impossible to communicate with. We deal more with PC 3 than the others but they all have problems. The field offices which often have to coordinate with the payment centers in order to get benefits paid aren't much better.
This isn't happening because Social Security employees are lazy or inefficient. Of course, there are a few Social Security employees who fit in that category but no more than you would expect to find at any large institution. The problem is that there just aren't enough Social Security employees to get the work done. Work backs up. One way of trying to cope with ever increasing backlogs is to spend your time working on the backlog instead of dealing with telephone calls but many of those calls concern problem cases where the payment center has made a mistake that they're not aware that they've made.
By the way, if you work at a hearing office, don't think you have a good handle on what Social Security attorneys do. This post concerns just one of the many things we do that you would have no clue about.
Sounds like what we get when we call from field offices. Only thing that speeds things up are Congressional interest and management involvement on both ends.
I've had much more success calling the Rep Telephone contact for claimant payment issues for both back pay and my fee. 877-626-6363. It seems like they have power to send out a fee and payment since I've been on the phone with them as they've done it and told me "it'll be there in 5 days" and sure enough they are. Knock on wood that this continues to be the best avenue.
SSA does a lot more than disability. Even the most lowly SR or CR does more than just disability. PC does a bunch more than just fighting through your ridiculous, poorly written and horrendously ill documented fee petition, and millions upon millions get paid every month because of their work.
Cut the infrastructure so it does not work well and eventually the proletariat believes government cannot help them and they must look to the bourgeoisie to protect them.
I chose those words deliberately because I am sick of every program to help the vital infrastructure of this nation (the workers) being declared socialist.
How is the cut in funding, staffing and backlog affecting CDR's? Has it dropped in priority?
2:13, Congress requires SSA to use a certain portion of its administrative spending for "program integrity" activities and one of those is CDRs. They've made huge progress on reducing the CDR backlog as a result. See the bottom of p.13 here to see how many more CDRs they're doing now.
But when about 14% of SSA money goes to program integrity--way out of proportion to the agency's actual needs--other backloads build up.
Since SSA sets the fee, why don't they create a model fee petition that all the reps could use. Then you wouldn't have to review them all.
Or does that make too much sense.
Is it usually the rep making these calls or someone from their staff?
That sounds fantastic.
Our firm contacts the payment center if there is an extraordinary delay or if the client is facing hardship as a result of the delay. The issue is in most cases, the delay is not extraordinary, it is just a massive backlog of paperwork. Rarely though, we contact the payment center and catch something that fell through the cracks, and can actually do some good.
@3:56 why don't you abide by your original fee agreement instead of trying to milk the system on every claim?
Never seen it worse since joining the game in 2006. Considering the law still requires employees to pay into Social Security. The right-wing whackos should include a cut in those payroll taxes in their outlandish tax plan. Hey, if you don't have the funds to provide a service then don't charge for the service.
But oh that won't happen. The right want SSA gone. Until they need it when they are older.
Our fee agreement, and any fee agreement of other firms I've seen, explain in detail the fee petition process. It is not a matter of "abiding" by the original fee agreement. The claimant agrees to the fee petition process as part of the fee agreement.
As to "milking the system on every claim," fee petitions are exceptionally rare and do not occur in every claim. They probably occur in under five percent of cases. Getting paid for extra work, the work after the initial hearing, is not unreasonable, which is why Social Security allows the fee petition process. People, representatives included, do not work for free.
@11:54 AM: PC only has to pay a fee petition approved by someone else. There is no difference to them whether the fee order came as a result of petition or direct pay. The problem is lack of staffing and antiquated systems.
@2:43: Milking the system? No, we reprs are doing the actual work that SSA no longer does. It's not a CR to does a disability report with a claimant....its me the rep. Who helps a claimant determine onset, look at work issues, gather the background, and does a THOROUGH interview. That would be me.... SSA reps do not have time and hate their jobs too much to do them well. Who explains the actual rules and laws....not SSA...me. Who actually gets the records and puts them in the file... ME the rep. DDS makes one request and denies the case without them if they don't come in within 30 days. We do far more that we get paid for. The fee ends at the time of decision yet it may be 6-12 months of further work to get SSA to finalize and approval and set up payments. Who knows when a field office has dropped the ball, failed tp clear SSI, or rep payee or some other innocuous issue to get a claim paid? .... Me the rep. Milking the system? Without us the agency could not function.
2:13. Congress mandates a certain number of CDRs to be done each year by each state. Once these are done no more CDRs are done until the next fiscal,year. Even when there is enough information to make a decision, none will leave the office until,the next fiscal,year. If the quota is reached in July, the completed cases will be held until October
5:08 If the DDSs were able to write to a source , wait 30 days and deny a case they would not have so many older cases in their office.. All the work 5:08 "me" says he does is generally done by the DDS and when it is not it is returned by OQR should they review it. Most claimants who are allowed do not have an attorney at the initial level and the agency functions as well as it does for those with an attorney
@ 5:08 "without us the agency could not function." Are you remotely serious? You do understand the agency does more than just you pitiful handful of 50/50 claims that you are trying to sneak through. You do understand that the agency functioned without representatives in the past. You do understand many of the ALJs and attys at SSA used to be reps!
Question, if you are so spectacular, why are you working in a marginal area of practice, doing all the work for them? I don't buy the "defender of the downtrodden" tripe, be original.
I have had trouble getting through and I've dealt with some wonder workers at the payment centers. Of course when you cut funding, it makes it harder for those left to do their job.
Wait - where can I get a payment center number? I spoke to them once, years ago, but ever since, I cannot get anyone at my field office to give me the number. I have a client who had experienced an overpayment recovery which was reversed on appeal, and we've been trying for 6 months to get her money back. The field office says they can only send an inquiry. Consquently, I have to call the FO once a month to check status.
I either got mine from when they called me or online. The field office cannot give them to you and usually don't know them.
508 PM "Who helps a claimant determine onset, look at work issues, gather the background, and does a THOROUGH interview."
Haha! I wish they did all these things. Claims filed by attorneys that come to my office are a lot of work to fix so we can send them to DDS. Onset dates that differ on disability report and claims, SSI claims for folks that have way over the excess resource limit or income limit (not even close), onset dates that have no correlation to when person last worked and more. The paper ones that are mailed in take as much time as if I just interviewed the person in front of me in the office. I don't doubt they do work but it's not all that helpful on initial claims. I will give you that hearings and recons are helpful as most are filed online but many initial claims are not a help at all.
There are some good local reps that respond to requests and are very helpful. The bigger firms (think Binder and Binder) are useless if we need proof of age, state disability, worker's comp, etc.
PC Phone Numbers from SSA web site for claimants under age 54
Disability Cases for Claimants Under Age 54
For Claimant Related Issues Call the Representative Call Center
(Using first 5 digits of SSN) Phone
001-00 to 999-99 877-626-6363
For Fee Payment Issues Only, Call the Module According to SSN Range
Fax Number - 877-385-0643
(Using first 5 digits of SSN) Phone
001-00 to 026-56 410-966-2916
026-57 to 054-64 410-966-2944
054-65 to 081-52 410-966-2972
081-53 to 107-42 410-966-2941
107-43 to 133-58 410-966-2706
133-59 to 157-74 410-966-2739
157-75 to 195-50 410-966-2768
195-51 to 220-80 410-966-2983
220-81 to 235-21 410-966-6465
235-22 to 248-35 410-966-6469
248-36 to 258-60 410-966-6472
258-61 to 269-84 410-966-8509
269-85 to 292-72 410-966-1648
292-73 to 313-08 410-966-1676
313-09 to 338-84 410-966-2614
338-85 to 364-02 410-966-9633
364-03 to 380-92 410-966-3400
380-93 to 400-37 410-966-3430
400-38 to 411-25 410-966-3460
411-26 to 422-02 410-965-0972
422-03 to 431-51 410-966-2507
431-52 to 441-82 410-966-2536
441-83 to 455-69 410-966-2565
455-70 to 466-27 410-966-6913
466-28 to 487-76 410-966-2361
487-77 to 506-78 410-966-2390
506-79 to 524-21 410-966-2419
524-22 to 535-74 410-966-2896
535-75 to 547-55 410-966-3919
547-56 to 555-97 410-966-3950
555-98 to 564-37 410-966-3977
564-38 to 572-41 410-965-0365
572-42 to 583-21 410-966-2208
583-22 to 591-19 410-966-2237
591-20 to 609-55 410-966-2266
609-56 to 899-99 410-965-1036
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"Question, if you are so spectacular, why are you working in a marginal area of practice, doing all the work for them? I don't buy the "defender of the downtrodden" tripe, be original."
Why do you think preparing claims, whether for SSDI, LTD or standard civil litigation is a "marginal area of practice?" Gee, I thought fighting for clients rights/justice, protecting rights was the actual point of being an attorney. And, getting great results means getting paid well. While defender of the downtrodden is not tripe, most of my clients are mature workers who simply can not navigate the maze that has been created to keep SSA from providing service. This clientele has their right to a properly developed case just like any other area of practice. Even these days the money is GREAT if you do it well. SSA discourages in person applications and therefore claimants are calling attorneys to fill that need. The government has put so many barriers in place, clients have not been able to get a phone call answered or a simple question dealt with about the internet based applications. They would rather pay me to do it than deal with the frustration of dealing with a government program that can no longer provide any service. Marginal? No different that any other type of legal work (probate, contract, real estate, litigation) Work is work. Money is good too. Capitalism.
Ok 3:12 so your just complaining for the sake of complaining. At least thank you for being honest about making GREAT money on this process that is absolutely free without representation and can and is done successfully by non atty reps.
3:08 PM. Maybe you need a lawyer because the ALJ will ignore your arguments, no matter how valid, because of bias against non-attorneys. So, he denies. If a lawyer made the exact same argument, he would approve. Even if a doctor described your case as a "Slam dunk," SSA can find a way to deny you if under 50! It is simply too risky in this environment to not hire a lawyer! Don't assume the ALJ will treat you fairly!
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