Friday, July 28, 2006

How the Social Security Administration deals with the backlog of cases

My dad, who works for SSA's Office of Hearings and Appeals sent me this. A lot of people are turned down for Social Security benefits because they simply have not worked enough and paid enough in taxes. These people file an appeal, which means the government has to A)fight the appeal or B) send the bum a check. So the government has created a rule that lets them do the latter. It's sort of like settling out of court.

Dear taxpayers,

Just thought you would like to know what your government is doing to deal with the crushing backlog of requests for hearing in disability cases in the Social Security Administration. I am particularly intrigued by the "No Work Experience Profile". Consider this: A person who didn't bother to get a high school education ("no more than a limited education"), hasn't bothered to work or has worked "under the table" in the past 15 years ("no past relevant work"), has managed to live to age 55, and has any impairment that causes more than a minimum limitation on his or her ability to work ("severe impairment"). Would you consider such a person to be disabled? Well, the Social Security Administration now does. The lack of past work experience would make the person ineligible for regular Social Security disability benefits, but the person could qualify for Supplemental Security Income. We call this "paying down the backlog." Just thought you would all like to know how wisely your tax money is being spent. The toughest part of my job lately has been holding my nose with one hand as I type decisions with the other.

Michael B. Enders
Senior Attorney
Hartford, CT Hearing Office

1 comment:

  1. Although I sent the e-mail message to Robert and several other members of my family, I didn't really intend for it to be published. Now that it has, I will add the follow up comment that I subsequently sent to Robert. Another situation in which the "No Work Experience Profile" may arise is in the case of disabled widow's or disabled widower's benefits. There, the surviving spouse of the deceased spouse who supported both of them could file for benefits and be found disabled because of any severe impairment, provided that he or she had not graduated high school, was age 55, and had no "past relevant work" experience, which the Social Security regulations define as work in the past 15 years. The person would be eligible for benefits which, unlike the Supplemental Security Income scenario would not depend on the person having limited income and assets. He or she could be rich and live off the unintended generosity of people who work and be rewarded for bailing out of formal education before high school graduation and avoiding gainful work. I really didn't mean to broadcast this beyond my family, but the idea of complaining to my Senators and Congresswoman has crossed my mind.