Dec 31, 2021

Goodbye 2021


Dec 30, 2021

Thanks, Donald Trump!


Employers and self-employed individuals who chose to defer paying part of their 2020 Social Security tax obligation [because then President Donald Trump, as part of his re-election campaign, gave them the option or because they were federal employees who had it forced upon them by Trump] must make a payment by Jan. 3, 2022. While many received reminder billing notices from the IRS, the agency also noted that those affected are still required to make a tax payment, even if they never received a bill.

 “As part of the COVID relief provided during 2020, employers and self-employed people could choose to put off paying the employer’s share of their eligible Social Security tax liability, normally 6.2% of wages,” according to the IRS reminder. “Half of that deferral is now due on January 3, 2022, and the other half on January 3, 2023.” ...

Dec 29, 2021

Backlog Starts To Slowly Creep Up As Number Of ALJs On Duty And ALJ Productivity Both Decline

     The report shown below was obtained from Social Security by the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR) and published in its newsletter, which is not available online to non-members. It contains basic operating statistics for Social Security's Office of Hearings Operations (OHO). 

Click on image to view full size


Dec 28, 2021

IMAGEN How Skeptical I Am

      The National Association of Disability Examiners (NADE), a voluntary organization of the personnel who make initial and reconsideration determinations on disability claims for the Social Security Administration, has released its Winter 2021 Newsletter. Among other things it discusses a video conference held in September, particularly a presentation on IMAGEN, which is:

... a tool for reviewing evidence. It has a search engine for specific types of data like pathology reports, diagnoses and listing level labs. It recognizes synonyms, acronyms and abbreviations. It can suggest listings for analysis. In a case with thousands of pages, it can scan for whatever you ask it to. It’s been rolled out in 17 states so far. ...

When claimant medical and related evidence is received, IMAGEN transforms the evidence in real-time, into machine-readable text that enables enhanced search capabilities and intelligent analysis of medical record content. The medical evidence is analyzed to identify key clinical findings using a robust clinical vocabulary specialized for SSA's disability adjudication needs. This enables the identification of severe medical impairments (step 2 of sequential evaluation) which are then mapped directly to SSA's established diagnosis codes and SSA's Disability Listings (step 3 of sequential evaluation). Specific dated encounters and reports are also identified in the evidence, allowing the user to organize the evidence by section types (inpatient, out-patient), report types (MRI, Pathology, Post-operative, etc.), and chronologically. In upcoming releases, IMAGEN will be able to identify content in the medical record that relates directly to the claim-ant's physical function and mobility, as used in steps 4 and 5 of the disability sequential evaluation. IMAGEN currently supports Initial and Reconsideration level disability claims. ...

IMAGEN has a cadre of representatives from multiple components, including ODP, ODD, DDS, OHO, and OQR that provide feedback, which allows the IMAGEN team to continue to refine and improve IMAGEN's user interface, predictive analytics and other features. ...

Dec 27, 2021

It’s Time

      Andrew Saul was removed as Commissioner of Social Security on July 9, 2021. There has not yet been a nomination of a new Commissioner. I have no prediction for when the nomination will come but I think it’s time.

Dec 26, 2021

December 26


Dec 25, 2021

Merry Christmas!


Dec 24, 2021

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas!


Dec 23, 2021

Merry Christmas


Employee Union Shocked That Anyone Would Think They're Dragging Their Feet On Reopening

      From Government Executive:

The Social Security Administration is again embroiled in a spat with one of its labor unions, this time over the agency’s plans to bring employees back to physical work sites. ...

Rich Couture, president of AFGE Council 215, which represents Office of Hearing Operations employees, and chief negotiator for AFGE on the agency’s reentry plan, said much of the holdup comes down to the agency’s insistence that all reentry negotiations take place at the national level and the agency’s reentry plan is too vague, given the myriad of job descriptions and working conditions across the agency. ...

“AFGE has got around 45,000 bargaining unit employees spread across virtually every component of SSA,” he said. “The positions and work they do, whether they see the public or not, and the functions that each of these components serve are very, very different, and even within the components you have subcomponents and divisions where the work can be different. There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach we can take with how the reentry process will operate, proceed and affect employees based on their position and the work they do.”

Couture said that making negotiations more difficult is distrust over whether the agency is being transparent about its plans. Union officials suspect that the agency actually has more specific reentry plans for each of its components, but is simply withholding that information in order to gain an upper hand in bargaining. ...

“SSA has been completely transparent with the labor unions representing our employees and informed them that there is only one agency-wide reentry plan, which applies to all SSA components,” [Darren] Lutz [a Social Security spokesperson] said,  “The resumption of a limited, finite number of in-person hearings for certain aged cases to be conducted by non-bargaining unit administrative law judges is distinct from the agency-level reentry plan and it is not part of reentry for bargaining unit employees.” ...

In a Dec. 17 letter to Kijakazi, AFGE National President Everett Kelley escalated the issue, citing the acting director's desire for a “reset” in labor-management relations at the agency, expressed in a conversation last month. 

“In the weeks since that conversation, I am sorry to say that labor relations at SSA have not improved at all, either in tone or in substance,” Kelley said. “Collective bargaining over reentry has been characterized by a lack of transparency, unfounded accusations of delays on the part of the union, and perhaps most concerning, an apparent refusal to engage in bargaining reentry at either the component or local level in spite of the fact that circumstances surrounding reentry vary so much both in terms of operational considerations as well as community transmission data.” ...

     Let's state the obvious. The union wants Social Security offices closed FOREVER. They want their employees to work from home FOREVER. They have zero concern for what that would mean for the public. They want reopening stalled FOREVER by endless negotiations. There are real public health threats that need to be dealt with but what the union wants to accomplish goes well beyond any legitimate public health concerns. 

     The union needs to get realistic. The public isn't going to tolerate keeping Social Security offices shuttered forever. Democrats are sympathetic to unions in general but there are limits and I think those limits will become more and more obvious if this effort at stalling continues.

It’s OK To Feel Lonely At Christmas


Dec 22, 2021

Not In Any Rush To Reopen

      A message from Social Security:

We want to give you an update on our preparations for returning our employees to local Social Security offices, a process called reentry.

You may have seen a proposed reentry date of January 3, 2022 in the draft reentry plan that we provided to our unions, or in the media. While some executives reentered on December 1, we have not set a reentry date for the rest of the agency.

The best way to reach us is online at, or by calling our National 800 Number or a local Social Security office. At this time, please remember that we can only provide in-person service by appointment only for limited, critical issues. And we continue to hold voluntary hearings by online video and phone. We are taking steps to increase in-person help for people unable to complete their business online or by phone.

We will keep you updated on our reentry process.

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas!


Dec 21, 2021

Headcount Stays At Historically Low Number

     The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has posted updated numbers showing the headcount of employees at each agency. Here are Social Security's numbers as of June with earlier headcount numbers for comparison:

  • September 59,808
  • June 2021 59,707
  • March 2021 60,675
  • December 2020 61,816
  • September 2020 61,447
  • June 2020 60,515
  • March 2020 60,659
  • December 2019 61,969
  • December 2018 62,946
  • December 2017 62,777
  • September 2017 62,297
  • June 2017 61,592
  • March 2017 62,183
  • December 2016 63,364
  • December 2015 65,518
  • December 2014 65,430
  • December 2013 61,957
  • December 2012 64,538
  • September 2011 67,136
  • December 2010 70,270
  • December 2009 67,486
  • December 2008 63,733

Merry Christmas!


Dec 20, 2021

The Idea That SSA Employees Would Retire Rather Than Be Vaccinated Was Always Ridiculous

      From Federal News Network:

The Social Security Administration continued its trend of offering early retirements to eligible employees in 2021, though early data suggests the agency had relatively few takers. ...

About 6,800 SSA employees were eligible for an early retirement this year. About 175 employees, or slightly more than 2% of those eligible, have accepted the offer to date, an agency spokeswoman said in an email to Federal News Network. ...

Federal employees had until Nov. 22 to be fully vaccinated or submit a medical or religious exception request, and the vast majority of SSA employees have complied with the mandate. ...

At least 90.3% of the SSA workforce has at least one vaccine dose, and 97.7% of the agency’s employees were either partially vaccinated or had a medical or religious exception request pending or approved, according to data the Office of Management and Budget provided last week. ...

It’s OK To Feel Depressed At Christmas


Dec 19, 2021

“Do You Want A Problem With The Unions Or Do You Want A Problem With 70 Million People?”

      From the Washington Post:

NASHVILLE — The first cars bearing the needy pulled into the parking lot as the lights went on in the squat brick Social Security office, three miles north of the luxury condos and boutique hotels rising in booming Music City.
It was 9 a.m., and a flier taped to the glass double doors announced business hours until 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. An American flag fluttered at the curb.
But the office did not open for business, except for a lucky few who gained special entry, for what was then the 605th day since it had been sealed shut to protect its employees and customers from the coronavirus. …

Even as courthouses, motor vehicle and veterans’ benefits offices, and most other parts of the government that directly serve the public have reopened 21 months into the covid crisis, the Social Security Administration remains mostly closed to in-person service, its workers at home, denying vital assistance to most of the disabled, poor and elderly who have long relied on their local office to navigate one of the government’s most complex benefits systems. The unintended consequence: The federal government’s lengthy effort to protect the health of its workers and the public has instead wounded many of those in greatest need of its services. …

With 1,230 field offices normally visited by 43 million people a year largely shut, applying for disability or getting a Social Security card to secure a new job or other services requires finding a way to get online, waiting on hold on the phone for lengthy periods or relying on spotty mail service. Often, statistics show, Americans in need are simply giving up.
Applications and benefit awards under the antipoverty disability program called Supplemental Security Income have plummeted to the lowest level in 22 years, down 29 percent from July 2020 to April 2021 compared with the same period a year earlier, according to internal agency data and outside research.
Another group — disabled people who at one point were able to work but who now have turned to the federal disability system — saw a 17 percent drop in awards, according to an analysis of agency data by David Weaver, a former associate commissioner in the agency’s Office of Research, Demonstration and Employment Support.

The number applying for SSI benefits for disabled children, disabled adults and the elderly plummeted 51 percent, 32 percent, and 55 percent, respectively, just one month after field offices closed, internal agency data shows, a decline that continued through August 2020, the most recent month for which numbers were available. The drop-off was most pronounced for those with limited English and the elderly….

[T]he Social Security inspector general reported this month that just 51 percent of calls from the public were answered in fiscal 2020.

After months of criticism from disability advocates and Republicans in Congress who contend that the Biden administration is kowtowing to its unions in allowing the closures — and delaying reopenings across the government — the agency released tentative plans last month to begin returning its staff of 60,000 to their offices in January. But employees in some offices will be given wide berth to continue working from home permanently up to five days a week, with two days allowed for the field office staff. …

“Social Security is disappearing from public view,” Weaver said, pointing to the number of people who receive benefits: “It’s going to eventually reach a point where, do you want a problem with the unions or do you want a problem with 70 million people?” …

      By the way, I’ve decided to stop allowing comments that say that employee productivity has increased while Social Security employees have been working from home. I have seen no proof of that. As a general matter, it appears to be misleading if not a complete fabrication. Decreased staffing is a big problem for Social Security but it’s not the only one. Working from home is also causing big problems. 

Merry Christmas!


Dec 18, 2021

Merry Christmas!


Dec 17, 2021

This Is An Area That Needs Reform

      From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

... Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services ... took in nearly $5 million in children’s Social Security benefits between fiscal years 2016 and 2020 that belonged to hundreds of youth in foster care, according to records obtained by Resolve Philly and The Inquirer through a Right to Know request. Then DHS swept the money into the city’s $5 billion general fund. 

Around the country, the practice of DHS agencies taking Social Security benefits from kids to pay for their own foster care is under increasing scrutiny. In Maryland, a 2013 appeals court decision held that agencies violated foster children’s due-process rights when they took their benefits without informing them or their legal representatives. Maryland later enacted a law that mandates, among other things, that foster youth, or their lawyer, receive notice, allowing them an opportunity to claim the money. The law also calls for increasing amounts of their Social Security money to be set aside for them as they approach 18 years old. ...

In response to more than a dozen written questions about its practices, DHS sent a brief response that didn’t address most of the matters asked:

 “When SSA appoints DHS as the representative payee, the funding is spent on youth’s daily care, such as food, clothing, and shelter. Philadelphia collects benefits as allowed by law and is open to improving its practice as it relates to this issue. To confirm, it is lawful for DHS to collect survivor’s benefits.” ...

Philadelphia DHS said it has no process in place to provide notice to youth whose money is being collected. ...

     Could Social Security reform this with regulations? I don't know but if they can, they should.

Dec 16, 2021

Fewer Claims But Higher Backlogs At DDS

      From the conclusions of Comparing the Social Security Administration’s Disability Determination Services’ Workload Statistics During the COVID-19 Pandemic to Prior Years, a report by Social Security's Office of Inspector General:

Although the DDSs [Disability Determination Services] experienced some increases/decreases in their workload categories from year to year for the period April 2016 through March 2021, the largest year-to-year changes occurred from the COVID-19 period of April 2020 to March 2021 compared to the prior-year period (April 2019 to March 2020). DDSs received 15.9 percent fewer initial claims during the COVID-19 period compared to the prior-year period. Additionally, SSA sent 40.2 percent fewer CDRs [Continuing Disability Reviews] to the DDS during the COVID-19 period compared to the prior-year period. 
Despite the decrease in initial claims, DDS processing times increased during the COVID-19 period, which indicates claimants waited longer for DDSs to make medical determinations. Furthermore, even though receipts decreased for initial claims, reconsiderations, and CDRs, the pending workloads for these groups increased—which indicates the DDSs could not keep pace with workloads received. 
Finally, we noted that DDSs significantly decreased the use of consultative examinations; however, allowance/continuance rates remained relatively the same when comparing the COVID-19 period to the prior-year period. ...

Dec 15, 2021

New Process For 1696s And Fee Agreements

      Social Security requires documentation (primarily a 1696 form and fee agreement) in order to accept that a claimant is represented by an attorney or other person. Even though a case might be pending at a hearing office, these documents had to be submitted to the field office. There have been very serious problem processing this documentation at the field offices due to inadequate staffing. Processing the forms has also been delayed because the process for inputting data has been more complicated for agency employees than it should be. It has often been treated as a low priority matter meaning weeks, if not months, of delay. This leads to many telephone calls and letters from attorneys. Attorneys often resubmit the paperwork which causes unnecessary work at the field offices. The attitude of the field offices seems to be "Quit bugging us. We'll get to it when we get to it." The attitude of the attorneys is "We can't represent our clients at all until you take care of this. It can't wait for weeks or months." 

     Effective on December 13, this process has been changed to some extent. Now the documentation may be submitted directly to the hearing office if the claimant's case is pending there. This cuts down on the work at the field offices. Also, I understand that the process for inputting data into Social Security's systems has been simplified. That should also cut down on the workload at the field offices.

     Let's hope for some improvement in performance.

Dec 14, 2021

Social Security Directed To Stop Requiring So Many Wet Signatures

      From an Executive Order signed by President Biden on December 13:

... (k)  The Commissioner of Social Security shall:
            (i) within 120 days of the date of this order, provide a report to the Director of OMB [Office of Management and Budget] that analyzes all services of the Social Security Administration that currently require original or physical documentation or in-person appearance as an element of identity or evidence authentication, and that identifies potential opportunities for policy reforms that can support modernized customer experiences while ensuring original or physical documentation requirements remain where there is a statutory or strong policy rationale;
            (ii) develop a mobile-accessible, online process so that any individual applying for or receiving services from the Social Security Administration can upload forms, documentation, evidence, or correspondence associated with their transaction without the need for service-specific tools or traveling to a field office;
            (iii) consistent with applicable law and to the extent practicable, maintain a public policy of technology neutrality with respect to acceptable forms of electronic signatures;
           (iv) consistent with applicable law and to the extent practicable, revise any necessary regulations, forms, instructions, or other sources of guidance (to include the Program Operations Manual System of the Social Security Administration) to remove requirements that members of the public provide physical signatures; and
            (v) to the maximum extent permitted by law, support applicants and beneficiaries to identify other benefits for which they may be eligible and integrate Social Security Administration data and processes with those of other Federal and State entities whenever possible. ...
     Should anything at Social Security really require a wet signature? I'd say "no."

Dec 13, 2021

Two New Tasks For Social Security?

     The Senate Finance Committee has released an updated version of its portion of the Build Back Better Act, the huge budget reconciliation bill that has already passed the House of Representatives. It contains two parts that affect the Social Security Administration. At the very beginning of the 1,180 document is a four week comprehensive paid leave benefit to be administered by Social Security and at the very end of the bill is extension of SSI to U.S. territories. As best one can tell, extension of SSI to the territories is uncontroversial, at least among Democrats, while paid leave is very controversial with one Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin. His possible opposition is crucial since it will take every Democrat in the Senate voting for the bill to pass it.

     The comprehensive paid leave part of the bill would appropriate to Social Security at addition $1.5 billion in the current fiscal year and $1.59 billion a year thereafter for administration of the benefit. §2206(b). There would be an additional half a billion for FY 2024, the year in which comprehensive paid leave would start. §2206(c). By the way, there's no additional money appropriated in the bill for the extension of SSI to the territories.

     No doubt Social Security will find administration of comprehensive paid leave challenging, if it passes. The thing about this is that if this passes getting it going will become a huge priority for the Biden Administration. The Social Security Administration's current backlogs cannot be allowed to persist or it will be impossible to implement comprehensive paid leave. If it is to get this additional workload, the agency's field offices, payment centers and teleservice centers must be massively buttressed with additional staff and this can't wait until the last minute. This can't be accomplished just with overtime. The agency will need to completely clear off its current backlogs and fully train its staff. If this passes in its current form the money may be there to do that. If this bill doesn't appropriate enough, the Biden Administration will be highly motivated to find additional money. I don't know how this sounds to Social Security employees but to someone like me who's on the receiving end of the agency's services, it sounds great.

Dec 11, 2021

Federal Student Loan Discharge Changes Coming

      From Forbes:

The Biden administration took a big step this week towards making significant changes to a key federal student loan forgiveness program that provides relief for disabled student loan borrowers.

The Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) discharge program provides student loan forgiveness to federal loan borrowers who are unable to maintain substantial, gainful employment due to a physical or psychological medical impairment. …

The Education Department is moving forward to implement significant changes to the TPD Discharge program through a process called negotiated rulemaking — a lengthy, formalized procedure where a committee of key stakeholders must hold public meetings and reach consensus to overhaul the rules that govern federal student loan programs.

Yesterday, the negotiated rulemaking committee reached an agreement on implementing several big changes to the TPD discharge program:  …

  • Expand Eligibility For Recipients of Social Security. For borrowers receiving Social Security disability benefits, the new rules would eliminate the requirement that a borrower’s disability review period be at least five to seven years. Instead, borrowers who have been receiving Social Security disability benefits for at least five years prior to applying for TPD relief, or have a disability onset date at least five years before applying, would be eligible. This would effectively expand the pool of eligibility for disabled borrowers and make it easier for borrowers to show that they qualify for relief.

     Far more disabled people have federal student loans outstanding than you might imagine. This is a big deal for them. 

Dec 10, 2021

Senate Republicans Urge Reopening Of Social Security Field Offices

      From a press release:

U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Senator Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), Ranking Member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, sent a letter urging Acting Social Security Administration (SSA) Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi to immediately reopen SSA’s field offices to the public. …

Joining Ranking Members Crapo and Scott were 13 members of the Finance and Aging committees: Senators Todd Young (R-Indiana), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Mike Braun (R-Indiana), Rick Scott (R-Florida), John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), John Thune (R-South Dakota) and Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania).

Dec 9, 2021

Presidential Rank Award Winners

      Elias Hernandez and Sean Brune of the Social Security Administration have been announced as Presidential Rank Award winnners for 2021 by the Office of Personnel Management. Brune is Deputy Commissioner/Chief Information Officer, Systems. I can’t find Hernandez online. 

Dec 8, 2021

SSA Wants Monthly Payroll Data

      From a Request for Information posted by the Social Security Administration (emphasis added):

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a need to acquire contractor services to provide an online wage verification system that SSA can use to substantiate employment, wage amounts, and other employment-related data. The SSA is seeking information on how an interested contractor could meet our requirement to establish a data exchange with payroll data providers to provide monthly wages per individual and employer data for use in SSA’s administration of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program on a monthly basis.

Dec 7, 2021

OHO Caseload Analysis Report

     The report shown below was obtained from Social Security by the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR) and published in its newsletter, which is not available online to non-members. It contains basic operating statistics for Social Security's Office of Hearings Operations (OHO).

Click on image to view full size


Dec 6, 2021

Why Is Such Terrible Telephone Service Considered Acceptable?

      The House Social Security Subcommittee asked Social Security's Office of Inspector General to do a study on Social Security's telephone service during the pandemic. The Inspector General's office prepared The Social Security Administration’s Telephone Service Performance in response to this request. None of the data presented by OIG is less than a year old and most of it is from before the pandemic even began. Was it too much trouble to obtain more recent data? By the way, the Inspector General's cover letter includes a sentence that may encapsulate the current Inspector General's attitude: “My office is committed to combating fraud, waste, and abuse in SSA’s operations." Right, but what about how well the agency serves the public? Isn't that part of your mission, too. You were asked to produce a report on that. Why are you emphasizing "waste, fraud and abuse" in your cover letter?

     Anyway, here are some interesting charts from the report -- click on each of them to view full size:


Dec 5, 2021

Is It OK To Cut Someone Off Benefits Because They Are "Likely" To Be Dead?

    From a recent report by Social Security's Office of Inspector General:

SSA suspends benefit payments for a variety of reasons. Suspending benefits stops ongoing monthly payments, and SSA technicians receive alerts to resolve the reason for the suspension. However, SSA does not initiate actions to recover payments made after a beneficiary’s death until technicians add death information and terminate the payment record.

 We identified three populations of beneficiaries who were in suspended payment status as of December 2019. We used death data from 24 States to identify approximately 5,000 beneficiaries in suspended payment status who were deceased according to State death records. We then identified about 6,000 beneficiaries suspended for development of unverified death reports. Finally, we used data analytics to identify approximately 23,000 beneficiaries suspended for address development who we determined were likely deceased. We randomly selected and reviewed 100 beneficiaries from each of the three populations (300 total).


We determined 263 (88 percent) of the 300 sampled beneficiaries in suspended payment status had died before December 2019. These deceased beneficiaries remained in suspended payment status because SSA (1) technicians did not follow existing policy for beneficiaries suspended for death development, (2) did not have adequate controls to identify beneficiaries suspended for address development who were likely deceased, and (3) policy does not consistently instruct technicians to search for or recognize all available sources of death information. Additionally, SSA policy does not provide sufficient information to guide technicians when they post a beneficiary’s unverified death based on a returned payment from Treasury, which results in erroneous dates of death on SSA records.

Because of these control weaknesses, we estimate SSA issued approximately $298 million in payments to about 24,000 deceased beneficiaries in suspended payment status. SSA did not initiate actions to recover these payments, but it did receive approximately $84 million in recovered funds. SSA erroneously recorded about $33 million of the returned funds as underpayments. We estimate SSA has neither recovered approximately $214 million of the payments nor recorded approximately 24,000 beneficiaries’ death information in the Numident. ...

      Note that there is literally zero concern expressed over the fact that Social Security suspended payments to people who were still alive based upon unverified death reports. In fact, OIG is eager to have Social Security cut off benefits to many more people whom they regard as "likely" dead even though some of them are certainly alive. Would "likely" be a high enough standard for you if one of your loved ones got cut off benefits because some bureaucrat thought they were "likely" dead even though they were very much alive?  Remember that when Social Security decides you’re dead, you don’t just lose your cash benefits, you lose your Medicare and all your bank accounts and credit cards are frozen.

Dec 4, 2021

Fraud Scheme Included Hundreds Of Phony Applications For Social Security Retirement Benefits

      From a press release:

Ivie Shevon Sajere pled guilty to a money laundering conspiracy that defrauded the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) out of nearly $1,000,000.  The conspiracy involved the false filing of thousands of online applications for SSA retirement benefits and FEMA disaster benefits using stolen personal information.  ...

Beginning in approximately June 2017 until September 2018, the defendant and her husband, Neville Sajere, both Nigerian nationals who engaged in marriage fraud in an unsuccessful attempt to become US citizens, participated in a money laundering scheme that defrauded nearly a million dollars from SSA and FEMA.

The scheme involved unknown individuals filing applications for Social Security retirement benefits and/or FEMA disaster relief benefits using stolen personal information.  The individual victims whose personal information was stolen were often individuals highly acclaimed in their fields.  It appears that these individuals were targeted because, even though they were of retirement age, they had not filed for SSA retirement benefits and did not need disaster benefit relief.  Thus, the criminals had a better chance of getting the applications approved.  Specifically, the victims included a movie directo r, an award-winning journalist, the daughter of a legendary movie director, and a highly esteemed academic. 

Once an application was approved, the fraudsters directed that the funds be deposited onto a Green Dot debit card opened using other stolen personal information.  As soon as the money was credited to the Green Dot debit card, the defendant generated payments through Square, Stripe and Paypal to Nevada Bridge TV, a Nigerian streaming service/television production company owned by the defendant’s husband; BAGMA, an African gospel award show business owned by the defendant’s husband; and Shevonz, a clothing store owned by the defendant. ...

Dec 2, 2021

Just How Bad Is Telephone Service At Social Security?

     From WHEC:

One of the remnants of the COVID pandemic is that Social Security offices are still closed. You have to set up an appointment to get in.  But people are telling News10NBC that the phone system to do that doesn't work. ...

Farrah Ritter demonstrated the problem. From Pittsford Canal park, she called the Social Security 800 number to set up an appointment.

After a long message, 14 rings and some dead air, the call just ended. Ritter has a log of how often that's happened.    

Here is just one day. ...

Farrah Ritter: "The longest was five minutes. The shortest was two minutes."
[Reporter]: "And that's before you get cut off?"
Ritter: "That's when I get cut off. I never get to anyone." ...

I asked the SSA if it was aware of the phone issue and if it has a date when the offices will re-open for walk-in appointments.

So far - no answer to those questions. ...

     What is described here is no fluke. This is the sort of "service" that claimants normally receive. It's scandalous but there's no great outcry over it. I don't understand why. Why do we put up with this?

Dec 1, 2021

A First

     A Tennessee woman is claiming that she's the first in her state to be approved for Social Security disability benefits based upon Covid-19. Perhaps someone at the state Disability Determination Service told her?