Feb 21, 2024

Final Rules Approved To Omit Food From SSI Support And Maintenance Calculations

    The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) has approved publication of final rules to omit food from SSI support and maintenance calculations. Expect to see it in the Federal Register in the near future.

Feb 19, 2024

A Poll


Feb 16, 2024

Wyden Praises O'Malley

     The Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has saluted the new Commissioner of Social Security for going forward with proposed rules to allow use of electronic wage reporting to reduce overpayments.

Feb 15, 2024

ERAP -- What Are We Doing?

     Social Security management has a strong lean in the direction of centralizing anything that can be centralized and some that can't. One of the things that they have centralized is the scheduling of Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearings. It's called ERAP -- Enhanced Representative Availability Process -- at least insofar as it applies to people like me who represent claimants. I cannot even imagine a sensible reason for ERAP. Let me set out some problems I have encountered with ERAP:

  • It's now February. ERAP is demanding that I tell them when I've available for hearings in August! Do you know what your plans are for August? They have just started scheduling for June. I don't know why we need to schedule this far in advance anyway but why do I have to submit my availability well beyond what they need now.  How is this helping anyone. 
  • I have been told verbally that if I fail to meet Social Security's deadline that I am considered available for the entire month even if I tell them well before scheduling actually begins for the month in question. Gotcha! Is there any rational reason for this?
  • I have been informed that once I submit my availability that I cannot later change it to say that I am unavailable certain days even though Social Security hasn't started scheduling even for the month before the month we're talking about. Gotcha! Not only must I submit availability six months in advance, I'm not allowed to make changes even if the changes don't inconvenience Social Security in the slightest. Do your plans six months out never change?
  • Despite providing dates that I'm available six months in advance, Social Security still schedules hearings on days I've told them I was unavailable and they still schedule two hearings at the same time. As best I can tell, they don't even consult the dates I've given them. The burden is on me to catch this and get it corrected. When this happens there is usually a significant delay in rescheduling a case.
  • Attorney who have clients in two of Social Security's regions have impossible problems since those regions can't coordinate scheduling with each other. Somehow we're supposed to solve this problem for the agency.

     What are we doing here? This is an unworkable system for attorneys. My guess is that it may not be much better for ALJs.

    The old system, which involved hearing offices calling attorneys about each hearing was workable. With all the reschedulings because of errors, I don't know that ERAP actually saves time for the agency. The agency is supposed to be serving the public. ERAP is lousy public service.

Feb 14, 2024

NPRM On Use Of Payroll Data Provider Info

     From a Notice of Proposed Rule-Making (NPRM) that the Social Security Administration will publish in the Federal Register tomorrow:

... We are proposing these rules ... for implementing the access to and use of the information held by payroll data providers. ...

We use wage and employment information to decide who can receive OASDI [Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance] disability benefits and SSI payments. We also use it to determine SSI payment amounts. Receiving complete, accurate, and timely wage and employment information allows us to administer our programs efficiently and to avoid improper payments that can occur when we do not have such information. Reviews of post-entitlement cases show that substantial gainful activity (SGA)4 continues to be the leading cause of overpayments in the OASDI disability program. In fact, SGA-related overpayments in the OASDI program averaged approximately $500 million annually as of fiscal year 2022.5 Further, wage discrepancies, which reached an annual average of approximately $1.4 billion in improper payments as of fiscal year 2022, have been a leading cause of improper payments in the SSI program for more than a decade. ...

Feb 13, 2024

A Less Colorful Waterfall Chart With CDR Numbers


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Feb 12, 2024

The Waterfall Chart For 2023


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Feb 11, 2024

Feb 10, 2024

A Poll