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SSDAdmin
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« on: July 05, 2011, 08:29:20 PM »

I would like to thank nickinflorida for sending this very interesting information regarding Oversight hearings on the Role of Social Security Administrative Law Judges.

Nick says and I quote "Apparently, our lobbying efforts on the Hill have gotten the attention of lawmakers to change SSA Laws to make needed reforms to effect better policy change for all applicants of SSDI/SSI benefits regarding massive changes in service levels, especially at the ALJ level. "


HEARING ADVISORY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    July 5, 2011
Jim Billimoria, Michelle Dimarob or Sarah Swinehart    (202) 226-4774
Chairman Johnson and Chairman Coble Announce a Joint Oversight Hearing on the Role of Social Security Administrative Law Judges

U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, and U.S. Congressman Howard Coble (R-NC), Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law, announced today that the Subcommittees will hold a joint oversight hearing on the role of Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) at the Social Security Administration (SSA).  The hearing will take place on Monday, July 11, 2011 in 2141 Rayburn House Office Building, beginning at 3:30 p.m.

In announcing the hearing, Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) stated, “No one should have to wait months or even years for their hearing decision because of the office or the ALJ their case is assigned to. That’s just plain wrong.  All of us have a responsibility to make things right for workers who paid for and deserve far better service.  At the same time, Social Security must be able to call bad decision-makers and under-performers to account.  I am committed to exploring measures that can be taken to improve productivity, quality, and agency oversight without compromising the right of claimants to a fair and impartial decision on their case.”

“Administrative law judges have an obligation to decide every case efficiently and accurately, but apparently that isn’t always happening at the Social Security Administration,” said Chairman Howard Coble (R-NC).  “The pressure on the system will only increase in the next decade as more and more baby boomers retire.  We need to get in front of this problem before it becomes a crisis, and this joint hearing is a step in the right direction.”

BACKGROUND:

Under the Social Security Act ((42 U.S.C. 405(a)-(b)), the Commissioner of Social Security is authorized to make decisions about whether individuals claiming disability are entitled to benefits. There are four distinct levels in SSA’s administrative process.  New medical evidence and changes to the claimant’s condition are considered at each of these levels in determining whether a claimant is disabled:

An initial determination at the 100 percent federally funded state Disability Determination Service (DDS);

    A reconsideration, made at the request of the claimant, also at the DDS (except in 10 so-called prototype states where this reconsideration process does not occur and claimants proceed to the next step);
    A hearing before an ALJ, at the request of the claimant; and
    A review of the ALJ decision at the Appeals Council, by an Administrative Appeals Judge (AAJ).  These are done at the request of the claimant or under the Appeals Council’s own motion review.
    The AAJ may take final action to allow or disallow the claim, or may remand the case back to an ALJ for further action.  The decision-maker at any of these levels acts on behalf of the Commissioner and the decision, if not appealed, becomes the final agency decision.


Section 554 of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) provides that adjudications required by statute must be determined on the record after opportunity for an agency hearing.  In those adjudications, after the record has been closed and the agency has made its decision, an appeal may be made to the ALJ, who holds an adversarial hearing where argument is heard from the parties, including the government, on the closed record created at the earlier stage.  In contrast, the SSA employs ALJs for the hearings step of the appeals process.  The record remains open through each of the four levels of appeal, including the hearing and the Appeals Council review.  The SSA hearing is described as inquisitorial because the ALJ has the responsibility to develop and evaluate the record, find the facts, consider those facts in light of agency policies and regulations, and issue a decision.  In other words, the SSA hearing is not adversarial; the claimant may have a representative, but the agency does not. 

Statutory protections are included in the APA to ensure ALJs’ decisional independence from their agencies in matters of appointment, tenure, and compensation.  The Office of Personnel Management is responsible for implementing certain sections of the APA, including the appointment of ALJs; the Merit System Protection Board has a role in disciplining ALJs; and consistent with APA requirements, the ALJ employing agency is responsible for managing the ALJs they hire.  In the case of SSA, ALJs are required to follow the agency’s substantive policies and procedures, and SSA has the authority to enforce these requirements as long as they do not interfere with decisional independence. 

With approximately 1380 ALJs, SSA has 85 percent of all federal ALJs; the next largest corps of 70 ALJs is at the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals, followed by the Department of Labor with 40 ALJs.

Requests for an ALJ hearing have increased significantly due to the aging of the baby boomers.  In the past three years, these requests have further increased due to the recession.  This has resulted in a corresponding increase in the number of appeals waiting for a hearing by an ALJ.  The SSA has hired a significant number of ALJs in the last three years and has increased hearing operations efficiency through the use of video conferencing, automation and business process changes.  Also, on

October 31, 2007, the Chief Administrative Law Judge issued a memorandum to all ALJs that, for the first time, identified expectations for ALJs to issue 500-700 decisions each year on a timely basis.  According to the SSA, average waiting time for a hearing decision has since been reduced from a high of nearly 18 months in August 2008 to a still-unacceptably high 354 days in May 2011.

ALJ productivity, award and denial rates can vary significantly.  Based on data provided by the SSA, in FY 2010 74 percent of ALJs met the requested threshold of 500 decisions, however 15 ALJs handled more than 1000 cases and 98 ALJs handled fewer than 100 cases.  Also, nationally, ALJs awarded benefits in 61 percent of cases and denied them in 26 percent of cases and dismissed the requests in 14 percent of cases; however, 54 ALJs consistently awarded benefits in 85 percent or more of their cases and 2 ALJs denied them in at least 80 percent of their cases.  The Social Security Subcommittee has requested that the SSA Office of Inspector General evaluate the most significant cases of variance to see what factors may explain it, and whether SSA is effectively using its management authority to ensure adherence to SSA policies and procedures. That review is now underway.


###
Ways and Means Republican Press Office
www.WaysandMeans.House.Gov


Logged

I speak from experience not expertise.
Name: Marci
Location: Florida
Age at Application: 35
Disability: Arthritis, Degenerative Disc, Migraines, Foot Injury
Date Applied: September 2005
First Approval/Denial Date: Denied February 2006
Reconsideration Approval/Denial Date: Denied October 2006
Date Hearing Notice Received: October 2008 two weeks before hearing
Hearing Date: October 2008
ALJ Approval/Denial Date: Letter Received December 2008
Date Award Letter Received: January 2009
Date Back Pay Received: February 2009
Additional Info: Approved at hearing, no Attorney
johndoeinflorida
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People helped 0
Gender: Male
Posts: 107



« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2011, 10:58:29 PM »

I would like to thank nickinflorida for sending this very interesting information regarding Oversight hearings on the Role of Social Security Administrative Law Judges.

Nick says and I quote "Apparently, our lobbying efforts on the Hill have gotten the attention of lawmakers to change SSA Laws to make needed reforms to effect better policy change for all applicants of SSDI/SSI benefits regarding massive changes in service levels, especially at the ALJ level. "


HEARING ADVISORY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    July 5, 2011
Jim Billimoria, Michelle Dimarob or Sarah Swinehart    (202) 226-4774
Chairman Johnson and Chairman Coble Announce a Joint Oversight Hearing on the Role of Social Security Administrative Law Judges

U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, and U.S. Congressman Howard Coble (R-NC), Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law, announced today that the Subcommittees will hold a joint oversight hearing on the role of Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) at the Social Security Administration (SSA).  The hearing will take place on Monday, July 11, 2011 in 2141 Rayburn House Office Building, beginning at 3:30 p.m.

In announcing the hearing, Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) stated, “No one should have to wait months or even years for their hearing decision because of the office or the ALJ their case is assigned to. That’s just plain wrong.  All of us have a responsibility to make things right for workers who paid for and deserve far better service.  At the same time, Social Security must be able to call bad decision-makers and under-performers to account.  I am committed to exploring measures that can be taken to improve productivity, quality, and agency oversight without compromising the right of claimants to a fair and impartial decision on their case.”

“Administrative law judges have an obligation to decide every case efficiently and accurately, but apparently that isn’t always happening at the Social Security Administration,” said Chairman Howard Coble (R-NC).  “The pressure on the system will only increase in the next decade as more and more baby boomers retire.  We need to get in front of this problem before it becomes a crisis, and this joint hearing is a step in the right direction.”

BACKGROUND:

Under the Social Security Act ((42 U.S.C. 405(a)-(b)), the Commissioner of Social Security is authorized to make decisions about whether individuals claiming disability are entitled to benefits. There are four distinct levels in SSA’s administrative process.  New medical evidence and changes to the claimant’s condition are considered at each of these levels in determining whether a claimant is disabled:

An initial determination at the 100 percent federally funded state Disability Determination Service (DDS);

    A reconsideration, made at the request of the claimant, also at the DDS (except in 10 so-called prototype states where this reconsideration process does not occur and claimants proceed to the next step);
    A hearing before an ALJ, at the request of the claimant; and
    A review of the ALJ decision at the Appeals Council, by an Administrative Appeals Judge (AAJ).  These are done at the request of the claimant or under the Appeals Council’s own motion review.
    The AAJ may take final action to allow or disallow the claim, or may remand the case back to an ALJ for further action.  The decision-maker at any of these levels acts on behalf of the Commissioner and the decision, if not appealed, becomes the final agency decision.


Section 554 of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) provides that adjudications required by statute must be determined on the record after opportunity for an agency hearing.  In those adjudications, after the record has been closed and the agency has made its decision, an appeal may be made to the ALJ, who holds an adversarial hearing where argument is heard from the parties, including the government, on the closed record created at the earlier stage.  In contrast, the SSA employs ALJs for the hearings step of the appeals process.  The record remains open through each of the four levels of appeal, including the hearing and the Appeals Council review.  The SSA hearing is described as inquisitorial because the ALJ has the responsibility to develop and evaluate the record, find the facts, consider those facts in light of agency policies and regulations, and issue a decision.  In other words, the SSA hearing is not adversarial; the claimant may have a representative, but the agency does not. 

Statutory protections are included in the APA to ensure ALJs’ decisional independence from their agencies in matters of appointment, tenure, and compensation.  The Office of Personnel Management is responsible for implementing certain sections of the APA, including the appointment of ALJs; the Merit System Protection Board has a role in disciplining ALJs; and consistent with APA requirements, the ALJ employing agency is responsible for managing the ALJs they hire.  In the case of SSA, ALJs are required to follow the agency’s substantive policies and procedures, and SSA has the authority to enforce these requirements as long as they do not interfere with decisional independence. 

With approximately 1380 ALJs, SSA has 85 percent of all federal ALJs; the next largest corps of 70 ALJs is at the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals, followed by the Department of Labor with 40 ALJs.

Requests for an ALJ hearing have increased significantly due to the aging of the baby boomers.  In the past three years, these requests have further increased due to the recession.  This has resulted in a corresponding increase in the number of appeals waiting for a hearing by an ALJ.  The SSA has hired a significant number of ALJs in the last three years and has increased hearing operations efficiency through the use of video conferencing, automation and business process changes.  Also, on

October 31, 2007, the Chief Administrative Law Judge issued a memorandum to all ALJs that, for the first time, identified expectations for ALJs to issue 500-700 decisions each year on a timely basis.  According to the SSA, average waiting time for a hearing decision has since been reduced from a high of nearly 18 months in August 2008 to a still-unacceptably high 354 days in May 2011.

ALJ productivity, award and denial rates can vary significantly.  Based on data provided by the SSA, in FY 2010 74 percent of ALJs met the requested threshold of 500 decisions, however 15 ALJs handled more than 1000 cases and 98 ALJs handled fewer than 100 cases.  Also, nationally, ALJs awarded benefits in 61 percent of cases and denied them in 26 percent of cases and dismissed the requests in 14 percent of cases; however, 54 ALJs consistently awarded benefits in 85 percent or more of their cases and 2 ALJs denied them in at least 80 percent of their cases.  The Social Security Subcommittee has requested that the SSA Office of Inspector General evaluate the most significant cases of variance to see what factors may explain it, and whether SSA is effectively using its management authority to ensure adherence to SSA policies and procedures. That review is now underway.


###
Ways and Means Republican Press Office
www.WaysandMeans.House.Gov




Hi Marci!

Thank you for the credit!

My opinions are just my personal analysis as to what caused the hearings to be taking place next week.  And, the results of those hearings will effect us all for the good in the long run.  I like to lean on the positive spin of things, but at the same time, I don't want to create false belief these hearings will be the ultimate, "Magic Pill" or solution to the problematic situation with regards to the subject matter.

Keep in mind with the slow gears of Congress, 1000s of bills are introduced and reintroduced in many sessions of Congress.  Most of them die in committee and never become the law of the land.  But, this hearing is the start of a long process.  It is in sub-committee.  That means that it must be heard at that level with many witnesses testifying.  The committee members have dialogue with witnesses in a long Q & A session.  That's the first hearing.  After all sub-committee hearings have been done. A Mark-Up session of the bill is done in sub-committee among the hearing members until a final product is achieved.  If the sub-committee passes favorably the marked-up bill, it will go to the Full Committee on the Judiciary for the House of representatives.

The Chairman of the Full Committee will schedule a hearing of all members, have witnesses, and go through a mark-up of the bill passed from the sub-committee.  If it is passed favorably from the Full Committee, the House Leadership brings it to the floor for full debate.  The Rules Committee sets the rules of procedure for all legislation going to the floor.  Once the bill hits the floor, there may be say 10 hours of debate equally divided and controlled by the managers on the floor.  Once debate is concluded and all amendments to the bill have been done, the original intent of the bill may still be preserved or watered down due to pressure by many lobbyist for or against the measure.  The House then has a procedural vote on the rules.  If that passes, then it comes up for Final Passage in the House vote.  The bill is considered read three times and engrossed.  Each vote is 15 minutes by electronic devise.

Once a bill is passed in the House, it goes to a much slower body in the upper chamber, the U.S. Senate where it goes through the same processes under different rules in the U.S. Senate. 

To summarize, if it passes in the Senate without changes from the House version, it goes to the President for signature into Public Law.  If it passes and the House and Senate version differs, it goes to a House-Senate Conference Committee where both versions are melted into one version agreeable to both sides, sent to each chamber for an up or down vote and sent to the President for signature into Public Law. 

Getting a bill into law can be a very complex matter, and we Pray that this will be fast tracked through Congress without being watered down, and left in it's original intent for the good of the millions of people with disabilities.  A clean bill is always good, but can be filled with 1000s of earmarks in the horse trading to get votes for passage of the bill.  I may be off with a few things above, but that's the general flavor of the process.  I'm also an advocate for the Student Lending Crisis and a current bill in Congress to make student loans once again dischargeable as ordinary debt in bankruptcy.  I'm also involved in the advocacy of a piece of legislation to provide 14 additional weeks of Emergency Unemployment Compensation for the millions of 99ers who have gone through all their 99 weeks of maximum benefits both at the State and Federal levels.  I'll end here for now.  I've given everyone plenty to absorb.  I welcome a healthy debate by our forum members with this message thread.  It would be nice if Marci would be invited to speak as a witness at the hearings to place a human face to a robotic hearing.

Thank you! 
Logged
Name: John Doe
Location: Florida
Age at Application: 46 (50 on New Claim) ==> 51 y/o Now!
Disability: Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Diabetes 2, GERD, High Cholesterol, Avoidant Personality Disorder
Date Applied: 2008 & 2010, 6/27/2012 = New Claim
First Approval/Denial Date: 2009 & 2010, 8/30/2012/Denied = New Claim
Reconsideration Approval/Denial Date: 2009 & 2010, 9/6/2012/Denied = New Claim
Hearing Date: 4/02/2012, Awaiting NEW date for hearing on New Claim.
ALJ Approval/Denial Date: Decision 6/5/2012/Denied, New Claim Pending!
Additional Info: Case Closed 6/27/2012, Decision in Mail. New Claim Pending!
SSDAdmin
Administrator
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People helped 342
Gender: Female
Posts: 14811



« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2011, 09:34:06 PM »

Thanks to nickinflorida for this update:

The House Judiciary Committee has released a list of witnesses for the hearing next Monday.  

Click on the image below to view this file


* Hearing.jpg (34.1 KB, 526x363 - viewed 195 times.)
Logged

I speak from experience not expertise.
Name: Marci
Location: Florida
Age at Application: 35
Disability: Arthritis, Degenerative Disc, Migraines, Foot Injury
Date Applied: September 2005
First Approval/Denial Date: Denied February 2006
Reconsideration Approval/Denial Date: Denied October 2006
Date Hearing Notice Received: October 2008 two weeks before hearing
Hearing Date: October 2008
ALJ Approval/Denial Date: Letter Received December 2008
Date Award Letter Received: January 2009
Date Back Pay Received: February 2009
Additional Info: Approved at hearing, no Attorney

« Last Edit: July 08, 2011, 09:37:06 PM by SSDAdmin »
johndoeinflorida
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*

People helped 0
Gender: Male
Posts: 107



« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2011, 10:00:48 PM »

Thanks to nickinflorida for this update:

The House Judiciary Committee has released a list of witnesses for the hearing next Monday. 

Click on the image below to view this file

Hi Marci!

Thank you for pasting the update!

I have sent a separate email to the Chief of Staff, Mr. Ed McDonald and Legislative Director, Mr. John Mautz.  Both are on Congressman Coble's staff.  Congressman Coble is the Chairman, Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial & Administrative Law.  This is the subcommittee holding the hearing next Monday and falls under the House Judiciary Full Committee. 

In that email, I promote SSDFACTS to them to raise awareness that we exist, and they can feel free to contact Marci if they need her to provide more in depth awareness of the many issues confronting the disabled, especially as it relates to the hearing topic of Administrative Law Judges, etc. 

I am now advocating on three fronts now:  The disabled, the unemployed (99ers) and the bankruptcy legislation surrounding the student lending crisis.    angel angel angel angel angel

== Nick ==
Logged
Name: John Doe
Location: Florida
Age at Application: 46 (50 on New Claim) ==> 51 y/o Now!
Disability: Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Diabetes 2, GERD, High Cholesterol, Avoidant Personality Disorder
Date Applied: 2008 & 2010, 6/27/2012 = New Claim
First Approval/Denial Date: 2009 & 2010, 8/30/2012/Denied = New Claim
Reconsideration Approval/Denial Date: 2009 & 2010, 9/6/2012/Denied = New Claim
Hearing Date: 4/02/2012, Awaiting NEW date for hearing on New Claim.
ALJ Approval/Denial Date: Decision 6/5/2012/Denied, New Claim Pending!
Additional Info: Case Closed 6/27/2012, Decision in Mail. New Claim Pending!
msgeneral
~ Platinum ~
*

People helped 6
Gender: Female
Posts: 1376


« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2011, 10:35:04 PM »

gotta love it !! and maybe the number of  letters that have been sent to us senators will be known as well at that hearing !
Logged

there is a FLAW in the SLAW !! lol
Location: Georgia
Hearing Date: August 2011
ALJ Approval/Denial Date: VERBALLY APPROVED at hearing
johndoeinflorida
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People helped 0
Gender: Male
Posts: 107



« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2011, 10:53:42 PM »

gotta love it !! and maybe the number of  letters that have been sent to us senators will be known as well at that hearing !

Hi Msgenerallee!

Here's some contact information for Chairman Coble for your information:

DC Address:   

The Honorable Howard Coble
United States House of Representatives
2188 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-3306

DC Phone:   202-225-3065

DC Fax:   202-225-8611

At this point in time, phone and fax would be faster since the hearing is this Monday afternoon. 

== Nick ==
Logged
Name: John Doe
Location: Florida
Age at Application: 46 (50 on New Claim) ==> 51 y/o Now!
Disability: Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Diabetes 2, GERD, High Cholesterol, Avoidant Personality Disorder
Date Applied: 2008 & 2010, 6/27/2012 = New Claim
First Approval/Denial Date: 2009 & 2010, 8/30/2012/Denied = New Claim
Reconsideration Approval/Denial Date: 2009 & 2010, 9/6/2012/Denied = New Claim
Hearing Date: 4/02/2012, Awaiting NEW date for hearing on New Claim.
ALJ Approval/Denial Date: Decision 6/5/2012/Denied, New Claim Pending!
Additional Info: Case Closed 6/27/2012, Decision in Mail. New Claim Pending!
msgeneral
~ Platinum ~
*

People helped 6
Gender: Female
Posts: 1376


« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2011, 11:05:10 PM »

bummer- unless i fax something thru before monday morning, i wont be able to contact the office... i have an early (i dont do mornings good at all) morning dr appt at 10:15 ..not gonna be easy for me, so this phd will most likely see me before all my meds have kicked in..
Logged

there is a FLAW in the SLAW !! lol
Location: Georgia
Hearing Date: August 2011
ALJ Approval/Denial Date: VERBALLY APPROVED at hearing
johndoeinflorida
~ Gold ~
*

People helped 0
Gender: Male
Posts: 107



« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2011, 11:18:34 PM »

bummer- unless i fax something thru before monday morning, i wont be able to contact the office... i have an early (i dont do mornings good at all) morning dr appt at 10:15 ..not gonna be easy for me, so this phd will most likely see me before all my meds have kicked in..

Hi Msgenerallee!

Please accept my apologies. 

I included the contact information under your quote for ALL members on here, and wasn't meaning that you specifically have to contact anyone. 

Your health comes first along with your doctor(s) appointments.

Please keep the contact information for future reference.

Thank you for allowing me to clarify my intent!

== Nick ==
Logged
Name: John Doe
Location: Florida
Age at Application: 46 (50 on New Claim) ==> 51 y/o Now!
Disability: Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Diabetes 2, GERD, High Cholesterol, Avoidant Personality Disorder
Date Applied: 2008 & 2010, 6/27/2012 = New Claim
First Approval/Denial Date: 2009 & 2010, 8/30/2012/Denied = New Claim
Reconsideration Approval/Denial Date: 2009 & 2010, 9/6/2012/Denied = New Claim
Hearing Date: 4/02/2012, Awaiting NEW date for hearing on New Claim.
ALJ Approval/Denial Date: Decision 6/5/2012/Denied, New Claim Pending!
Additional Info: Case Closed 6/27/2012, Decision in Mail. New Claim Pending!
johndoeinflorida
~ Gold ~
*

People helped 0
Gender: Male
Posts: 107



« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2011, 02:07:46 PM »

Thanks to nickinflorida for this update:

The House Judiciary Committee has released a list of witnesses for the hearing next Monday.  

Click on the image below to view this file

Hi Marci!

Thank you for pasting the update!

I have sent a separate email to the Chief of Staff, Mr. Ed McDonald and Legislative Director, Mr. John Mautz.  Both are on Congressman Coble's staff.  Congressman Coble is the Chairman, Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial & Administrative Law.  This is the subcommittee holding the hearing next Monday and falls under the House Judiciary Full Committee.  

In that email, I promote SSDFACTS to them to raise awareness that we exist, and they can feel free to contact Marci if they need her to provide more in depth awareness of the many issues confronting the disabled, especially as it relates to the hearing topic of Administrative Law Judges, etc.  

I am now advocating on three fronts now:  The disabled, the unemployed (99ers) and the bankruptcy legislation surrounding the student lending crisis.    angel angel angel angel angel

== Nick ==


UPDATE:

The hearing will be live at 3:30pm on C-Span at the following link:

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/300418-1 or

House Link:

http://judiciary.edgeboss.net/wmedia-live/judiciary/17223/300_judiciary-coj_2141_070212.asx

So far, just two witnesses:  

Commissioner Astrue, SSA and
Deputy Director Griffin, OPM

When copies of their testimony become available, I will post links.

Thank you!

== Nick ==
Logged
Name: John Doe
Location: Florida
Age at Application: 46 (50 on New Claim) ==> 51 y/o Now!
Disability: Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Diabetes 2, GERD, High Cholesterol, Avoidant Personality Disorder
Date Applied: 2008 & 2010, 6/27/2012 = New Claim
First Approval/Denial Date: 2009 & 2010, 8/30/2012/Denied = New Claim
Reconsideration Approval/Denial Date: 2009 & 2010, 9/6/2012/Denied = New Claim
Hearing Date: 4/02/2012, Awaiting NEW date for hearing on New Claim.
ALJ Approval/Denial Date: Decision 6/5/2012/Denied, New Claim Pending!
Additional Info: Case Closed 6/27/2012, Decision in Mail. New Claim Pending!

« Last Edit: July 11, 2011, 02:20:28 PM by nickinflorida »
johndoeinflorida
~ Gold ~
*

People helped 0
Gender: Male
Posts: 107



« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2011, 03:28:26 PM »

Thanks to nickinflorida for this update:

The House Judiciary Committee has released a list of witnesses for the hearing next Monday. 

Click on the image below to view this file

Hi Marci!

Thank you for pasting the update!

I have sent a separate email to the Chief of Staff, Mr. Ed McDonald and Legislative Director, Mr. John Mautz.  Both are on Congressman Coble's staff.  Congressman Coble is the Chairman, Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial & Administrative Law.  This is the subcommittee holding the hearing next Monday and falls under the House Judiciary Full Committee. 

In that email, I promote SSDFACTS to them to raise awareness that we exist, and they can feel free to contact Marci if they need her to provide more in depth awareness of the many issues confronting the disabled, especially as it relates to the hearing topic of Administrative Law Judges, etc. 

I am now advocating on three fronts now:  The disabled, the unemployed (99ers) and the bankruptcy legislation surrounding the student lending crisis.    angel angel angel angel angel

== Nick ==


UPDATE:

The hearing will be live at 3:30pm on C-Span at the following link:

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/300418-1 or

House Link:

http://judiciary.edgeboss.net/wmedia-live/judiciary/17223/300_judiciary-coj_2141_070212.asx

So far, just two witnesses: 

Commissioner Astrue, SSA and
Deputy Director Griffin, OPM

When copies of their testimony become available, I will post links.

Thank you!

== Nick ==

"Opening Statement

Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX)
Subcommittee on Social Security
Joint Hearing on the Role of Social Security Administrative Law Judges

July 11, 2011

(Remarks as Prepared)


I am pleased to be co-chairing this hearing with my colleague Chairman Howard Coble and his Subcommittee colleagues and thank them for hosting this important hearing. 

The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are the largest of Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. Both are administered by the Social Security Administration and only individuals who have a disability may qualify for benefits under either program. 

Social Security Disability Insurance pays benefits to workers and their families if they worked long enough and recent enough (generally 10 years, 5 of which were in the last 10 years) and paid Social Security taxes. Supplemental Security Income or SSI pays benefits based on financial need and is funded by general revenues. 

According to CBO, over $123 billion in disability insurance benefits were paid to 10.2 million disabled workers and their families in 2010 – though the current system makes it difficult if not impossible to know if that is the accurate number of Americans who are truly disabled and truly deserving of these benefits. 

Nonetheless, these are the numbers we have and CBO projects that by 2021, the number of beneficiaries will increase by close to 20 percent to 12.1 million and benefits paid will increase 57 percent to $193 billion.

In 2010, 6.5 million disabled SSI recipients received $41.8 billion in SSI benefits.  By 2021 CBO projects 7.1 million disabled SSI recipients will receive $56 billion in SSI benefits. 

Requests for benefits have increased with the aging of the baby boomers and the recession, the latter suggesting that people – in some cases – file for disability not because they are unable to work, but because they are unable to find work. 

Since 2007, disability insurance awards have increased 18 percent to 1.1 million people in 2010, while SSI disability awards have increased 28 percent to 938,000 in 2010.  According to the 2011 Trustees Report, disability program revenue will cover only 86 percent of benefits in 2018, a few short years from now.   The path we are on is unsustainable.

At the center of Social Security’s disability programs is the disability process that determines whether claimants are entitled to benefits.  Pivotal to that process is the hearing before an Administrative Law Judge or ALJ at which many of the difficult cases denied at earlier stages in the process are newly reconsidered and awarded benefits. 

The Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security has long focused on ALJ and hearing office performance on a bipartisan basis.  A September 2008 Subcommittee hearing highlighted the Agency’s and the Agency’s Inspector General’s work to address hearing office and ALJ performance.  A good deal of progress has been made.

Commissioner Astrue has implemented close to 40 initiatives to boost adjudication capacity, improve performance, and increase efficiency through automation and process changes. Also Agency hiring efforts have focused on increasing the number of ALJs and their support staff.   

The average waiting time for a hearing decision has been reduced from a high of 505 days in August 2008 to 353 days in June 2011.  Now, 74 percent of ALJs are meeting the requested threshold of 500 decisions, up from 47 percent when the request was first made in October 2007. 

Appeals processing statistics are posted online.  Now the public is rightly paying attention and raising questions about the integrity of the ALJ hearing process. 

Recent press articles have highlighted:

*Judges awarding benefits 90 percent or more of the time, in comparison to a national average that hovers around 60 percent;
 *Judges who decide extremely high numbers of cases in comparison to their colleagues, in some cases thousands more;
*Awards that are made without a hearing, based on whatever medical evidence may be in the file;
*Disparities from office to office and state to state, where an outcome can be predicted based on the ALJ assigned the case; and
*Assignment of cases outside of random rotation, raising the specter of inappropriate relationships with counsel.


At the bipartisan request of this Subcommittee, the Agency’s Inspector General is investigating the most egregious of these examples now.   At a minimum, these articles raise serious questions about the fundamental fairness of this appeals system, and whether it operates as the public has a right to expect. 

So why do these Judges get away with this?  Under the law, ALJs have judicial independence, which seems to mean they operate with little or no accountability.

Simply put, the Agency can’t question their decisions, even if they grant approvals in most of their cases or deny most of their cases.   ALJs who produce extraordinary numbers of decisions or who do very little are hard to hold accountable as well, since their productivity seems to be related to their independence. 

Their collective bargaining agreement affords ALJs additional layers of protection, and the ALJ union has fought long and hard to keep those protections in place.  And while the laws that protect ALJs give the Agency the ability to pursue the most egregious cases of conduct, it’s a costly and time-consuming process.

No one should have to wait months or even years longer for their hearing decision because of the office or the ALJ their appeal is assigned to, nor should the taxpayer have to foot the bill for a national hearings process that can, in effect, allow judges to rubberstamp awards. 

That’s just plain wrong.  Those who aren’t performing up to expectations must be held accountable.  Social Security must work fairly for all Americans and protect their hard-earned taxpayer dollars.

We need to find out what is going on in this program and fix it.  And if current law allows this to happen, we need to change the law.   Preserving the public trust demands no less.

                                                    ###

                          Ways and Means Republican Press Office
                              www.WaysandMeans.House.Gov
                                         202.226.4774"

This is a Joint Subcommittee Hearing between the House Ways and Means and House Judiciary Committees, and their respective Subcommittees.

== Nick ==

 
Logged
Name: John Doe
Location: Florida
Age at Application: 46 (50 on New Claim) ==> 51 y/o Now!
Disability: Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Diabetes 2, GERD, High Cholesterol, Avoidant Personality Disorder
Date Applied: 2008 & 2010, 6/27/2012 = New Claim
First Approval/Denial Date: 2009 & 2010, 8/30/2012/Denied = New Claim
Reconsideration Approval/Denial Date: 2009 & 2010, 9/6/2012/Denied = New Claim
Hearing Date: 4/02/2012, Awaiting NEW date for hearing on New Claim.
ALJ Approval/Denial Date: Decision 6/5/2012/Denied, New Claim Pending!
Additional Info: Case Closed 6/27/2012, Decision in Mail. New Claim Pending!
johndoeinflorida
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« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2011, 04:24:12 PM »

Thanks to nickinflorida for this update:

The House Judiciary Committee has released a list of witnesses for the hearing next Monday. 

Click on the image below to view this file

Hi Marci!

Thank you for pasting the update!

I have sent a separate email to the Chief of Staff, Mr. Ed McDonald and Legislative Director, Mr. John Mautz.  Both are on Congressman Coble's staff.  Congressman Coble is the Chairman, Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial & Administrative Law.  This is the subcommittee holding the hearing next Monday and falls under the House Judiciary Full Committee. 

In that email, I promote SSDFACTS to them to raise awareness that we exist, and they can feel free to contact Marci if they need her to provide more in depth awareness of the many issues confronting the disabled, especially as it relates to the hearing topic of Administrative Law Judges, etc. 

I am now advocating on three fronts now:  The disabled, the unemployed (99ers) and the bankruptcy legislation surrounding the student lending crisis.    angel angel angel angel angel

== Nick ==


UPDATE:

The hearing will be live at 3:30pm on C-Span at the following link:

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/300418-1 or

House Link:

http://judiciary.edgeboss.net/wmedia-live/judiciary/17223/300_judiciary-coj_2141_070212.asx

So far, just two witnesses: 

Commissioner Astrue, SSA and
Deputy Director Griffin, OPM

When copies of their testimony become available, I will post links.

Thank you!

== Nick ==


OPENING STATEMENTS:

Commissioner Astrue:

http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/pdf/Astrue07112011.pdf

Deputy Director Griffin:

http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/pdf/Griffin07112011.pdf

You all can replay the hearing at the C-SPAN link above.

I will post the link to the hearing transcripts when posted by the House.

Thank you!

== Nick ==
Logged
Name: John Doe
Location: Florida
Age at Application: 46 (50 on New Claim) ==> 51 y/o Now!
Disability: Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Diabetes 2, GERD, High Cholesterol, Avoidant Personality Disorder
Date Applied: 2008 & 2010, 6/27/2012 = New Claim
First Approval/Denial Date: 2009 & 2010, 8/30/2012/Denied = New Claim
Reconsideration Approval/Denial Date: 2009 & 2010, 9/6/2012/Denied = New Claim
Hearing Date: 4/02/2012, Awaiting NEW date for hearing on New Claim.
ALJ Approval/Denial Date: Decision 6/5/2012/Denied, New Claim Pending!
Additional Info: Case Closed 6/27/2012, Decision in Mail. New Claim Pending!
krisypoo
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« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2011, 09:15:09 AM »

*Judges awarding benefits 90 percent or more of the time, in comparison to a national average that hovers around 60 percent;
 *Judges who decide extremely high numbers of cases in comparison to their colleagues, in some cases thousands more;
*Awards that are made without a hearing, based on whatever medical evidence may be in the file;
*Disparities from office to office and state to state, where an outcome can be predicted based on the ALJ assigned the case; and
*Assignment of cases outside of random rotation, raising the specter of inappropriate relationships with counsel.

Also, nationally, ALJs awarded benefits in 61 percent of cases and denied them in 26 percent of cases and dismissed the requests in 14 percent of cases; however, 54 ALJs consistently awarded benefits in 85 percent or more of their cases and 2 ALJs denied them in at least 80 percent of their cases.  The Social Security Subcommittee has requested that the SSA Office of Inspector General evaluate the most significant cases of variance to see what factors may explain it, and whether SSA is effectively using its management authority to ensure adherence to SSA policies and procedures. That review is now underway.

This can be a bad thing for the judges that actually award people who need it. According to my lawyer this is scaring the good judges to be afraid of making favorable decisions. They are all also afraid of making on the record decisions right now, he said it's almost taboo right now in georgia to make an on the record decision. They have also hired many new judges who make almost 80% of denials! Thats where this would be good but we don't want the judges who make the favorable decisions to be afraid to make those decisions for people who deserve them just because they don't meet the percentage of denials required.  police  I've got a court date and now I'm afraid the judge who has an aprroval rate int the 80's may be afraid of big brother and actually look for reasons to deny my claim so that his approval rate goes down and he is off the 'radar'.
Logged

Take Care
Name: Krisy
Location: Georgia
Age at Application: 45
Disability: Systemic Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Ankylosing Spondinosis, Cognitive Difficulities, Depression, Anxiety, PSVT's
Date Applied: Dec. 2009
First Approval/Denial Date: April 2010
Reconsideration Approval/Denial Date: Feb. 2011
Hearing Date: in line
Additional Info: Virtual Hearing Unit Denied June 2011

« Last Edit: December 18, 2011, 07:13:19 PM by SSDAdmin »
SSDAdmin
Administrator
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« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2011, 07:15:14 PM »

Judges do not have any denial or approval quotas they have to meet but I do agree that too many of either would certainly make them noticeable.  I am sure many Judges are not thrilled the stats are available on the internet.
Logged

I speak from experience not expertise.
Name: Marci
Location: Florida
Age at Application: 35
Disability: Arthritis, Degenerative Disc, Migraines, Foot Injury
Date Applied: September 2005
First Approval/Denial Date: Denied February 2006
Reconsideration Approval/Denial Date: Denied October 2006
Date Hearing Notice Received: October 2008 two weeks before hearing
Hearing Date: October 2008
ALJ Approval/Denial Date: Letter Received December 2008
Date Award Letter Received: January 2009
Date Back Pay Received: February 2009
Additional Info: Approved at hearing, no Attorney
nawlins903
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Posts: 40


Living a Bee's life !


« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2013, 09:27:30 AM »

Hello all!  I have been away from the site for a while but I'm still hanging in there.   I had to have an unexpected surgery but I am fine now. Wanted to know if this has happened to anyone.   I called SS  this morning and after giving this lady my information to verify it was me she blatantly told me she didn't believe I was who I said I was.  She only asked me the usual  , DOB, address, where I was born.  So I asked her what makes her come to that conclusion though I answered all your questions.  She basically said to me that it was her discretion to decide whether or not to believe me.  And tried to get me to call back.   So I  say, not today.(to myself of course)   I said I know that there are other ways of verifying who you  are speaking with.  For instance I can tell you this is the first time I have called and I had a hearing on October 22 of last year.  Then all of a sudden she comes back and asks me about my banking , phone number, etc.  Okay so now she believes me.  All I was calling about was to  see what stage my claim was in.  It is still in the hearing office with no decision by the ALJ judge.  Go figure!!!!
Logged
Age at Application: 43
Disability: DDD, Spondylolisthesis,hypertension,severe anterolesthesis in L4-L5, severe facet arthropathy
Date Applied: September, 19 , 2011
First Approval/Denial Date: Denied : January 1, 2012
Reconsideration Approval/Denial Date: Denied: April 4, 2012
Date OTR requested: April 27, 2012
Date Hearing Notice Received: July 3, 2012
Hearing Date: October 22, 2012
bigbabie55
SSDFacts Supporter
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People helped 71
Gender: Female
Posts: 2574



« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2013, 01:02:27 PM »

Hmmmmm ! That was strange indeed. No I never had that to happen to me nor do I know personally of anyone who has ever had that particular experience. I am however just posting to let you know that I'm happy that you're recovering from surgery and feeling better. We have missed you Welcome back. Happy04 Happy06 Happy10 Happy07 Happy02 Main12 Happy08 Kudos02
Logged

Blessings! heart
Bigbabie
Location: Mi
Age at Application: 53/57 now
Disability: Multiple Sclerosis, Scoliosis, Carpal Tunnel Degenerative Disc
Date Applied: March 2011
First Approval/Denial Date: April 2011
Reconsideration Approval/Denial Date: Michigan currently has no Reconsideration
Hearing Date: March 12 2012
ALJ Approval/Denial Date: March 12 2012 (Bench Approval)
Date Award Letter Received: April 4,2012
Date Back Pay Received: April 4,2012
Additional Info: Award Letter/Explanation of Benefits/Back Pay all received in the mail on the same day
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