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Forum Post: Social Security lax on disability claims

Posted 10 years ago on Sept. 13, 2012, 9:57 p.m. EST by zerowageslave (2) from Point Pleasant Beach, NJ
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Social Security lax on disability claims

Thursday - 9/13/2012, 11:07am ET


WASHINGTON (AP) - Social Security is so overwhelmed by disability claims that some officials are awarding benefits without adequately reviewing applications, potentially adding to the program's financial problems as it edges closer to the brink of insolvency, congressional investigators say in a new report.

In more than a quarter of the 300 cases reviewed by congressional staff, decisions to award benefits "failed to properly address insufficient, contradictory or incomplete evidence." In many cases, officials approved disability benefits without citing adequate medical evidence or without explaining the medical basis for the decision, according to the report by the Republican staff of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

In some cases, it appeared that administrative law judges struggling to reduce backlogs didn't take the time to review all the evidence, the report said. The judges are expected to rule on at least 500 cases a year, with one judge deciding an average of 1,800 cases a year for three straight years, the report said.

"The administrative law judges are not looking at the cases because the pressure from Social Security is to get the cases out," said Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the subcommittee. "I think you could flip a coin for anybody that came before the Social Security commission for disability and get it right just as often as the (judges) do."

Social Security has been working for years to reduce a huge backlog of disability claims.

"We share the subcommittee's concern that a small number of judges have failed our expectations with regard to a balanced application of the law, proper documentation, proper hearings and proper judicial conduct," said Social Security spokesman Mark Hinkle. "We have undertaken a vigorous set of quality initiatives since the time most of these cases were filed about five years ago and data indicates that we have made substantial progress."

Hinkle added, "We recognize the need for further improvement and are working hard toward that goal."

At a subcommittee hearing Thursday, Chief Administrative Law Judge Debra Bice said the Social Security Administration has raised hiring standards for judges in the past several years. She said the agency doesn't hesitate to hold judges accountable, where the law permits. But, Bice said, the law limits the agency's authority over judges to ensure that they are impartial in deciding cases.

Disability claims typically increase in a bad economy because many people who worked despite their disabilities get laid off and apply for benefits. The recent recession was no exception, with a flood of applications straining the disability program's already troubled finances.

Without congressional action, Social Security's disability trust fund will run out of money in 2016, leaving the program unable to pay full benefits, according to the trustees who oversee the program. The trustees have urged Congress to shore up the disability system by reallocating money from the retirement program, just as lawmakers did in 1994. That fix, however, would further weaken the retirement system, which has its own long-term financial problems.

About 11 million people receive disability benefits from Social Security, an increase of more than 23 percent over the past five years. Benefits average a little less than $1,000 a month.

About 8.2 million people receive Supplemental Security Income, a disability program for poor people who don't have substantial work histories. SSI benefits average a little more than $500 a month.

Coburn said he called for the investigation after he learned that a man he had hired to cut down trees in the yard of his home was also collecting Social Security disability. Coburn said he wanted to learn how widespread cheating was in the system, though the report doesn't determine whether undeserving people are getting benefits. Instead, the report is limited to whether officials followed proper procedures.

The subcommittee's staff asked the Social Security Administration to randomly select 100 cases apiece from counties in three states _ Virginia, Alabama and Oklahoma. The cases were limited to those in which benefits were awarded.

The investigation was done by both Republican and Democratic staff members. However, subcommittee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., did not sign off on the final report because he disagreed with some of its recommendations.

The report acknowledged that the findings may not be representative of the entire country. However, it said, "The same types of issues affected decisions across all three counties, suggesting they may be a factor elsewhere in the nation."




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[-] 5 points by beautifulworld (23680) 10 years ago

What a b.s. article. It has never been easy to get a disability claim through Social Security. It is extremely difficult.

[-] -1 points by Mooks (1985) 10 years ago

Maybe, but if you are persistent you will get it. I know a lot of my patients are on SS due to a disability who really don't have anything wrong with them. Definitely not something that would keep them from working.

[-] 4 points by beautifulworld (23680) 10 years ago

You have to be totally disabled to get S.S. which means you can no longer perform the function of any job. That is not easy to prove. It's also not a position to envy. Never wish yourself S.S. disability. Know what I mean?

If you have knowledge about your patients regarding fraud, you should report it.

[-] -2 points by Mooks (1985) 10 years ago

I report people all the time, especially for Medicaid fraud. Nothing comes of it though.

And I also don't envy them. If anything I pity them that they are satisfied living off of the pittance they get and don't at least try to do something, which again is not all of them but definitely some of them.

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (23680) 10 years ago

Such a compassionate heart you have.

[-] 1 points by Mooks (1985) 10 years ago

Haha I try. Seriously though, a lot of people really do need help but there are also a lot who just play the system. And ultimately that is not fair to those who really do need the help because those limited funds get spread even thinner.

[-] 2 points by beautifulworld (23680) 10 years ago

Well maybe if we got all the crooks on Wall Street there would be more money to go around and people wouldn't be scraping by on S.S.

[-] 1 points by Mooks (1985) 10 years ago

That is definitely half of the problem right there.

[-] 1 points by shadz66 (19985) 10 years ago

On the matter of 'Social Security' - reflect on some words by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt):

fiat lux ...

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

Don't you just wish that Bernie Sanders attitude was contagious?

[-] 2 points by shadz66 (19985) 10 years ago

Bernie Sanders' attitude IS "contagious" and rife ... amongst The 99% ; the really fundamental problems are with 'The Co-opted 1%' and 'The Parasitic 0.01%' !!!

ad iudicium ...

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago


Greed it is not only blind and grasping it is resistant to sane thoughts & actions.

[-] -2 points by zerowageslave (2) from Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 10 years ago

Scamming the system is an anathema to compassion. You need to see the daylight between the two. Stop making excuses for dishonest people.

That's why the social welfare net is breaking down.

[-] 2 points by beautifulworld (23680) 10 years ago

When did I make an excuse for dishonest people? I told him to report the fraud.

[+] -4 points by Orwellwuzright (-84) from Lockeford, CA 10 years ago

No again. You have no idea what you are talking about. Or maybe you are deliberately lying because...?

[-] 2 points by beautifulworld (23680) 10 years ago

Wanna finish that thought out Mr. Orwell? Sensitive issue for you? Projection?

[-] -2 points by Orwellwuzright (-84) from Lockeford, CA 10 years ago

No...it...isnt.... It is so easy you have no idea how easy...

[-] 2 points by beautifulworld (23680) 10 years ago

No, if you bring honest information to them it is not easy. You have to be totally disabled.

[-] 2 points by shadz66 (19985) 10 years ago

Re. "honest information", I wonder if Mr.'MooksTheSnitch' or Mr.'Don'tKnowFukAllAbtOrwell' & other 'compassion compromised', hearts-"totally disabled" ; 'quasi-free-market' ; 'pro-Corporate for-profit-healthcare' ; Randians, RomneyLans and Right-Wing-nuts' - ever avail themselves of the likes of :

The last link is to a short article that is well worth the few minutes it will take to read and digest.

Like many things we all need - Peace, Prosperity, Fairness, Equality of Opportunity, Good Education, Healthcare and "Liberty - cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people" - (John Adams - Second US President, 1797-1801) !!

ad iudicium ...

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (23680) 10 years ago

I love your last sentence. Yes, those are the things we need.

[-] 1 points by shadz66 (19985) 10 years ago

Thanx & "How to Fix Health Care Without the Mandate", by Sarah Von Gelder :

"In poll after poll, a majority of Americans have expressed support for single-payer health care or national health insurance. This is true in spite of the near media blackout on this topic, and the failure of most national politicians to even consider single-payer as an option."

fiat lux ..

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (23680) 10 years ago

Not surprising!

[-] 1 points by shadz66 (19985) 10 years ago

"Protesting outside the Supreme Court (NB) recently as it heard arguments on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act were both conservatives from Americans for Prosperity who denounced the president as a socialist and demonstrators from Democratic front groups such as the SEIU and the Families USA health care consumer group who chanted "Protect the law!". --- Lost between these two factions were a few stalwarts who hold quite different views, including public health care advocates Dr. Margaret Flowers, Dr. Carol Paris and attorneys Oliver Hall, Kevin Zeese and Russell Mokhiber. They displayed a banner that read: "Single Payer Now! Strike Down the Obama Mandate!" They, at least, have not relinquished the demand for single payer health care for all Americans. And I throw my lot in with these renegades, dismissed, no doubt, as cranks or dreamers or impractical by those who flee into the embrace of empty political theater and junk politics. These single payer advocates, joined by 50 doctors, filed a brief to the court that challenges, in the name of universal health care, the individual mandate.", from :

dum spiro, spero ...

[-] 2 points by beautifulworld (23680) 10 years ago

Heck! Jrhirsch said we're not allowed to protest outside the Supreme Court. We need to get out there against Citizens United, too.

[-] 2 points by shadz66 (19985) 10 years ago

Eggs Actly !!! Your idea ws sound b4 'bw' & is so still & ...

vox populi, vox dei ...

[-] -2 points by Orwellwuzright (-84) from Lockeford, CA 10 years ago

Convicted prisoners incarcerated, a lot of them, receive SS disability. The state even hires people to deal with nothing but that. And very few of those are totally disabled. And I would be willing to bet that the VAST majority that have been added in the past two years are not really disabled at all. Take off the rose colored glasses.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 10 years ago

just unable to get money for work

[-] 3 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

Republican report? I am shocked that it would malign Social Security disability - Just Shocked. Geeze yeah . . . come to think of it my disability claim went flying right through the system - ummm wait a sec - is over 2 years 3 appeals and an advocacy group along with over 7 years of Dr. reports on ongoing treatment of an illness to be considered swift?

Hmmm - unless things have changed an awful lot - like reports from Dr.s being accepted and cases being approved instead of being denied and then contended over until the claimant is given the recognition that they deserve and so is not hassled for 2 yrs or more for approval. Hmmm wonder if this could have anything to do with the law and proper legal due process.

[-] -1 points by zerowageslave (2) from Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 10 years ago
[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

Actually I do - I lived it. The increase in claims - hmmmm - you don't think they might have something to do with the economy meltdown - you know lost jobs closed businesses and such things. See some people like myself worked with a disability - then - boom - you are out of work - guess what(?) - in an economy with no employment for healthy individuals it is even harder for the disabled to get a meaningful job any job.

[-] -2 points by zerowageslave (2) from Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 10 years ago

You can blather on anonymously here. Your anecdotal (if even true) life means nothing here. The facts in the article above belie your fantasy world. Your appeals are probably made up and you can say anything you'd like as an anonymous poster.

There are a S*load of people scamming the system. Millions. They're literally breaking down the safety nets. Disability is about truly disabled people (the few), not a substitute for unemployment (the many) when that runs out.

[-] 3 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

Are there millions of 1%ers? I don't think so - but yeah the rich sure do know how to scam the system.

[-] 1 points by Mooks (1985) 10 years ago

Yes there are. By definition, there are about 3.1 million 1%ers in the US. Only a very small % of them are scamming the system, just as only a small % of people scam the system from the other end. Either way, scamming is scamming and both should be punished.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

Well lets start with those at the top of the heap this time - we can get to the small change later.

[-] 0 points by Mooks (1985) 10 years ago

And those in the middle get screwed from both ends.

[-] -1 points by zerowageslave (2) from Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 10 years ago

It's no f'n wonder with these one-liners of self-pity, you can't hold down a job.

I wouldn't hire yer useless azzzz if you paid me.

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

U shouldn't put down people you don't understand. Count your blessings and pray you don't get to experience living life disabled.

[-] -1 points by zerowageslave (2) from Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 10 years ago

I pray I don't experience Argentina, Venezuela or Greece the way your kind is raping the civil society.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

U know nothing about me - and you likely know little more about Argentina, Venezuela or Greece. U seem to have had your head shoved up your ass. Did you do that yourself(?) or did someone help you when they got a dose of your winning charm?

[-] 1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 10 years ago

Quite true. Social Security is just as lax when reviewing the the evidence for disability claims as Congress is for reviewing the evidence for WMD's before we send our troops off to war.