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SSA, AFGE reach new collective bargaining agreement after contentious saga

  October 4, 2019 | By Nicole Ogrysko, Federal News Network

After more than a year of tense negotiations, the Social Security Administration and the American Federation of Government Employees have finally reached an agreement on a new, six-year contract. The new collective bargaining agreement, which SSA management and AFGE representatives signed late last week, settles months of disagreements between the two parties and offers both…

Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul — Don’t Let These People Starve

  September 17, 2019 | By Laurence Kotlikoff, Forbes

Dear Social Security Commissioner Saul, I write to relay two Social Security horror stories with the hope that you can help these people and take steps to prevent similar cases. The first involves Christopher Carriero, who lives in Georgia (302 Victoria’s Circle St. Mary’s, Ga. 31558). He’s receiving Social Security disability benefits. He has three…

Ernst calls for Congress to fix Social Security ‘behind closed doors’

  September 5, 2019 | By Rachel Frazin, The Hill

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said at a recent town hall that lawmakers should discuss changes to Social Security “behind closed doors,” sparking criticism from Democrats and advocacy groups. Ernst made the comments Saturday, according to a video posted by the Democratic super PAC American Bridge. The remarks began to receive wider attention after being reported…

Social Security Administration imposes hiring freeze with some exceptions

  August 9, 2019 | By Eric Yoder, The Washington Post

The Social Security Administration has imposed a hiring freeze on its headquarters in Woodlawn, Md., and in regional offices, while generally exempting positions involving direct service to the public. The freeze is one of the first actions by newly confirmed SSA Commissioner Andrew Saul and reflects the approach that President Trump took in imposing a general government-wide freeze…

Get a call from the Social Security Administration? It’s the latest government imposter scam

  July 13, 2019 | By Herb Weisbaum, NBC

Con artists tell lies — it’s how they make a living. Calling people and pretending to be with a government agency — IRS, Social Security, ICE, DEA, or the local sheriff’s department — is a ruse that’s been lucrative for years. But these imposter scams have now hit an all-time high. Here are a few…

Administrative Law Judge Union Accuses Social Security of Bad Faith Bargaining

  July 8, 2019 | By Erich Wagner, Government Executive

The president of a union representing the administrative law judges who adjudicate disability claims has accused the Social Security Administration of bargaining in bad faith. The accusation follows news that federal mediators declared the agency and union to be at impasse in negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement. Association of Administrative Law Judges President…

Congressional watchdog to investigate disability consultant doctors

  June 24, 2019 | By Mike Reicher, Tennessean

The Government Accountability Office plans to investigate the Social Security Administration’s use of consultant doctors to review claims, a congressman announced Monday. The announcement follows a Tennessean report that found some doctors in Tennessee were denying a high rate of applicants while reaping large sums in fees. In states across the country doctors also are…

Andrew M. Saul Sworn In As Commissioner of Social Security Administration

  June 17, 2019 | By Social Security Administration Press Release

Andrew M. Saul was sworn in today as the Commissioner of Social Security at the agency’s office in Washington, D.C. He will serve a six-year term that expires on January 19, 2025. Commissioner Saul expressed his gratitude at being chosen to serve as the Commissioner of Social Security. “The Social Security programs touch the lives…

Rural Health: Financial Insecurity Plagues Many Who Live With Disability

  June 12, 2019 | By Selena Simmons-Duffin, NPR

Carol Burgos is worried her neighbors think she is bringing the neighborhood down. She lives in a mobile home park in a woodsy part of Columbia County, N.Y, just off a two-lane highway. The homes have neat yards and American flags. On a spring Saturday, some neighbors are out holding yard sales, with knickknacks spread…

He doesn’t speak English. Should that be considered in an application for disability benefits?

  June 10, 2019 | By Kimberly Kindy, The Washington Post

The Trump administration is expected to change a federal rule this summer that for decades has allowed thousands of older citizens with proven mental or physical disabilities to qualify for federal benefits if they are also unable to communicate in English. In its proposed rule change, the Social Security Administration says the inability to read,…

Kentucky Bar Association has not done enough for Eric Conn’s clients after fraud scheme

  June 7, 2019 | By Ned Pillersdorf, Opinion Contributor, Courier Journal

Next week thousands of lawyers will descend upon Louisville for their annual bar convention, which promises to be a festive and elaborate affair. In a remarkable message this week, the president of the Kentucky Bar Association boasted in considerable detail about the excellent financial condition of the bar. If he was expecting some type of…

Column: Ex-heads of U.S. Social Security Administration offer plan to fix agency’s customer service

  June 5, 2019 | By Mark Miller, Reuters

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A worsening customer service crisis at the Social Security Administration has prompted three of its former commissioners to urge the U.S. Congress to fix the annual budgeting process that has starved the agency of the resources it needs to do its job. A letter calling for administrative budget reforms signed by the…

Opinion analysis: Dismissal as untimely of Supplemental Security Income claimant’s request for review is final decision subject to judicial review

  May 29, 2019 | By Kathryn Moore, SCOTUSBlog

Section 405(g) of the Social Security Act allows for judicial review of “any final decision … made after a hearing” by the Social Security Administration. Yesterday, in a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court resolved in favor of the claimant, Ricky Lee Smith, a split among the courts of appeal as to whether a claimant has a…

Assessment of Work-Related Functional Abilities Is Important In Disability Determination

  May 9, 2019 | By The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

WASHINGTON – Assessments of a person’s ability to function at work provide important information for disability determinations, and many validated tests are available to assess work-related physical and mental functions. However, because no single test of function is likely to provide all of the information needed to evaluate an individual’s ability to work, it is important…

The other side of Eric Conn case: Lawyers, law students stepped up to help those he hurt.

  April 25, 2019 | By Ned Pillersdorf, Lexington Herald Leader

Why do mountain folks detest attorneys? The answer is easy. Two words. One name. Eric Conn. Who can blame them? For the last four years thousands of mountain families have lived with this continuing dark cloud thanks to our neighbor who branded himself as “Mr. Social Security.” If you say the word lawyer , folks…

Social Security To Exceed Income by 2020, Run Out by 2034

  April 22, 2019 | By Alexa Lardieri, U.S. News & World Report

THE COST OF PAYING Social Security benefits in 2020 will exceed the amount of income the program collects for the first time since 1982. The 2019 annual report from the program’s trustees, published Monday, states that the shortage would force the program to dip into its $2.9 trillion trust fund in order to cover benefits.…

Schumer blasts long wait times and poor records at Rochester Social Security offices

  April 15, 2019 | By Sean Lahman, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Saying that the Rochester field office has one of the poorest records in the state, Sen. Charles Schumer on Monday called on the Social Security Administration to increase staffing to address long wait times and a backlog of cases. Schumer said the Administration’s internal reporting showed that the Rochester office only answered about 41 percent…

Former Conn clients optimistic about latest court ruling

  April 6, 2019 | By Mary Meadows, The Paintsville Herald

Some of the former clients of disbarred attorney Eric C. Conn have plenty to say about how his fraudulent practices have changed their lives over the past few years. More than 50 of his former clients turned out at a meeting on Tuesday to learn about a recent Court of Appeals decision that may help…

In veteran’s disability case, Supreme Court considers junking longtime deference to federal agencies

  March 27, 2019 | By Robert Barnes, The Washington Post

The Supreme Court debated Wednesday whether to overturn an important decision written by Justice Antonin Scalia for a unanimous court 22 years ago. There was a twist. At the oral argument, it was the late justice’s most devoted conservative acolytes who were anxious to junk Auer v. Robbins, which says judges generally should defer to…

Trump’s budget would eviscerate the social safety net but provide welfare for the rich

  March 12, 2019 | By Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

Much of the news coverage of President Trump’s proposed 2020 budget, which was released Monday, focuses on two aspects. One: It’s just a PR exercise, since presidential budgets never get enacted. Two: Trump’s demand for $8.6 billion to build his border wall sets up a new conflict with Congress and maybe another government shutdown. What…

Federal Employee Appeals Board’s Doomsday Has Arrived

  February 28, 2019 | By Eric Katz, Government Executive

The quasi-judicial agency that determines federal employees’ challenges to adverse actions will no longer have any Senate-confirmed board members starting Friday, leaving its capacity to operate at all in question. Mark Robbins, the loan remaining member on the Merit Systems Protection Board’s central panel, will leave the agency Thursday evening, when his term is set…

Working While Receiving Social Security Disability

  February 20, 2019 | By Rachel Hartman, U.S. News & World Report

To become eligible for Social Security disability benefits, you must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity. However, you may be able to earn a small amount of income while receiving Social Security disability payments. “It is possible to qualify for Social Security disability benefits and still work in a limited capacity,” says Nick…

Pennsylvanians’ long wait on disability would worsen with Social Security changes | Opinion

  February 15, 2019 | By Dwight Evans, Brendan Boyle, and Jennifer Burdick, for the Inquirer

Adrianne Gunter’s multiple sclerosis had gotten so bad, she could no longer work or go to school. Desperate to make ends meet, she applied for Social Security disability benefits. Despite her well-documented illness, the Social Security Administration initially turned down her application, and she had to file an appeal. After waiting a burdensome 788 days…

Judge’s ruling pushes Puerto Rico to pursue SSI benefits

  February 4, 2019 | By Danica Coto, The Washington Post

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A U.S. judge said Monday that the federal government is violating the Constitution by prohibiting people who live in Puerto Rico from receiving Supplemental Security Income. The opinion was issued as Judge Gustavo Gelpi dismissed a lawsuit filed by the federal government seeking to recover more than $28,000 in SSI…

Long wait for Social Security disability benefits may get worse in Syracuse

  January 18, 2019 | By James T. Mulder, Syracuse.com

Syracusans waiting up to two years to collect Social Security disability insurance benefits may have to wait even longer now that the federal government has added another step to the appeals process. The new step which took effect in New York Jan. 1 requires people appealing disability application denials to request a second review, called…

Opinion analysis: Social Security cap on attorney’s fees applies separately to successful representation before a court

  January 8, 2019 | By Kathryn Moore, SCOTUSBlog

According to a unanimous opinion released today, Social Security law does not impose an aggregate cap of 25 percent on attorney’s fees for successful representation of a Social Security disability claimant before both the Social Security Administration and a court. Instead, a 25 percent cap applies separately to representation before the court. This is a…

Once denied disability benefits, Tennesseans face long waits to appeal

  January 6, 2019 | By Anita Wadhwani and Mike Reicher, Tennessean

Thousands of people denied federal disability payments die each year while they wait for their chance to appeal the decision. Congress in 2018 approved $90 million in additional funding for the Social Security Administration to reduce a backlog of people waiting to make their case to a judge that they were wrongly denied disability benefits.…

Denied: How some Tennessee doctors earn big money denying disability claims

  January 6, 2019 | By Anita Wadhwani and Mike Reicher, Tennessean

By the time Alan Chrisman was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer, he was too sick to work. The cancer had spread to his lungs. His doctors said he may never get better. Chrisman, 59, applied for disability, the federal safety net program he contributed to with every paycheck during his 30 years working as…

How social insurance became “welfare” and “entitlements” — and what we lost in that process

  December 11, 2018 | By Theodore R. Marmor, Salon

Social insurance programs are at the center of American politics. In fiscal terms, Medicare and the Social Security Administration’s programs for retirement, disability, worker’s compensation, and worker’s life insurance amount to roughly 41 percent of the federal budget. This fiscal centrality, however, does not rest on anything like a broader, public understanding of what makes…

Twins sue Social Security over denial of benefits

  December 8, 2018 | By The Guam Daily Post

Two lawsuits have been filed against the U.S. Social Security Administration challenging the U.S. government’s policy of refusing to provide Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits to American citizens living on Guam. The lawsuits were filed on behalf of twin sisters Katrina Schaller of Barrigada, Guam; and Leslie Schaller of Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The two complementary…

Have a Social Security Question? Please Hold

  November 21, 2018 | By Mark Miller, The New York Times

When Brenda Holt learned that the federal government planned to close her local Social Security office, she swung into action. That field office in Quincy, Fla., served Gadsden County in the state’s panhandle, where Ms. Holt is a commissioner; closing the office would force residents who needed help managing their benefits to travel 25 miles…

Former clients of disbarred attorney Eric Conn get reprieve from disability hearings

  November 8, 2018 | By Bill Estep, Lexington Herald Leader

Hundreds of Eastern Kentucky residents will get a reprieve from hearings to determine if they can keep receiving federal disability payments, and may have more evidence to use when the hearings resume. The Social Security Administration this week notified attorneys for the people that it would suspend the hearings for 60 days, until Jan. 7.…

Former clients of disbarred attorney Eric Conn get reprieve from disability hearings

  November 7, 2018 | By Bill Estep, Lexington Herald Leader

Hundreds of Eastern Kentucky residents will get a reprieve from hearings to determine if they can keep receiving federal disability payments, and may have more evidence to use when the hearings resume. The Social Security Administration this week notified attorneys for the people that it would suspend the hearings for 60 days, until Jan. 7.…

Supreme Court grants certiorari in four additional cases

  November 6, 2018 | By Tate Brown, Jurist.org

The US Supreme Court granted certiorari in four cases Friday in addition to the Maryland cross case. In Smith v. Berryhill the court will answer the question of “whether the Appeals Council’s decision to reject a disability claim on the ground that the claimant’s appeal was untimely is a ‘final decision’ subject to judicial review…

Medical files from former Conn clients removed from law complex

  October 26, 2018 | By Shawn Allen, WYMT

In April we were told about thousands of medical files belonging to the former clients of Eric C. Conn found inside his Floyd County law complex in Stanville. In August U.S. Marshals seized the law complex, locking the doors and boarding up the windows, until a receiver of the files could be appointed. That receiver,…

Mitch McConnell says it out loud: Republicans are gunning for Social Security, Medicare and Obamacare next

  October 19, 2018 | By Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

All Washington seems to be buzzing this week over a single question: Is Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) deliberately trying to throw the election to the Democrats? At the root of the debate are interviews the Senate majority leader gave to Bloomberg and Reuters on Tuesday and Wednesday. McConnell identified “entitlements” — that’s Washington code for…

The Social Security myths you should know before the midterms

  September 5, 2018 | By Philip Moeller, PBS Newshour

Understanding how Social Security works is especially important as we approach November’s midterm elections. President Donald Trump said during his campaign that he would protect Social Security and Medicare. But he has done little to fulfill that promise since taking office. A Republican-controlled Congress approved his trillion-dollar tax cut last year, and the predictable increase…

Despite a judge’s disapproval, Trump administration is doubling down on Medicaid restrictions

  August 20, 2018 | By Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

In the real world, it has become clear that placing restrictions such as work and reporting requirements on Medicaid is disastrous. They’re legally dubious, for one thing — as a federal judge stated in late June when he tossed out work requirements imposed in Kentucky. More important, they lead to needy beneficiaries being thrown off…

Supreme Court Ruling to Shake Up Social Security Disability Claim System

  July 26, 2018 | By Allison Bell, ThinkAdvisor

Changes in how the Social Security Administration (SSA) processes claims for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) could soon cause new headaches for group disability plans — and for the financial professionals who sell, service and administer the plans. Witnesses talked about the looming SSDI claim determination changes Wednesday, at a hearing organized by the House…

House Panel Passes Social Security Online Tools Act

  July 19, 2018 | By Melanie Waddell, ThinkAdvisor

The House Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Social Security and Tax Policy passed on Wednesday the “Social Security Online Tools Innovation Act,” H.R. 3309, which requires the Social Security Administration to provide online tools to help individuals assess their disability benefits. The bill, which was reported to the full House, requires the Social Security…

Social Security recipients could be collateral damage of Trump’s workforce orders

  July 17, 2018 | By Joe Davidson, The Washington Post

President Trump’s recent executive orders are a serious assault on federal labor organizations, but it is taxpayers who could become collateral damage. Consider the Social Security Administration (SSA), which deals more directly with clients than most. It is on the front lines of the Trump-union clash, because officials there are enforcing his commands more aggressively…

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