"In December, NSCLC learned that all Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applications from people in a same sex marriage had been placed on an indefinite hold following last summer's Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor.

Individual cases in California, Maine and New York were brought to our attention by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Empire Justice Center. All of the individuals had applied for benefits prior to Windsor. In each case, they had been determined to meet the disability standard and would satisfy the SSI financial eligibility standard, whether they were regarded as married or not.

As a result of the delays, one individual was facing eviction, another had already been evicted. Another person had a terminal diagnosis with only six months left to live.

NSCLC, along with GLAD and the ACLU then raised the "hold" issue with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the U.S. Department of Justice, stressing the urgency of the situation in which SSI applicants often find themselves. We emphasized that people eligible for SSI are a group who, by definition, have no resources to fall back on. Individual cases were also brought to SSA's attention.

As a result, SSA issued instructions earlier this month that provide for processing SSI applications from individuals in a same sex marriage who reside in a marriage recognition state and were married on or after the date that the state first happened to recognize an out of state marriages. They have also now paid each of the four hardship cases that were specifically brought to their attention. . . ."

Continue reading at NSCLC



From The Hill, January 16, 2014:


"Today the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means is holding a hearing to examine disturbing allegations that a group of firefighters, police officers and others in New York City may have fraudulently obtained Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

As a long-time advocate for people with disabilities, I applaud the close scrutiny of these extremely troubling allegations by the Social Security Administration, New York City law enforcement, and the House of Representatives. Few things make me angrier than disability fraud, which jeopardizes the economic security of the millions of play-by-the rules Americans with disabilities. Any abuse of vital programs like Social Security Disability Insurance MUST be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

These stories of alleged abuse promote the false assumption that fraud is rampant in the SSDI program. Nothing could be farther from the truth. According to Social Security’s watchdogs, ”fraud” in Social Security Disability Insurance is extremely rare. Despite the media attention to allegations of fraud, it is absolutely critical for the public to know the circumstances of the people who rely on SSDI.

People like Kira, who lives with cerebral palsy, and whose Social Security Disability Insurance benefits mean the difference between eating and not eating. People like Carol, who worked as a rare documents archivist at the Library of Congress until she suffered a severe traumatic brain injury after being hit by a car while riding her bike to work. Thankfully, Social Security Disability Insurance has enabled Carol and her family to keep their home from foreclosure.

Our nation’s Social Security system – including Disability Insurance – keeps millions of hardworking Americans like Kira and Carolout of poverty. Benefits average just $1,130 per month. Modest as these amounts are, benefits provide vital support, making it possible to secure stable housing and purchase food, life-sustaining medications, and other basic necessities.

It takes a lot more than just being out of work to quality for SSDI. Workers must have paid into the Social Security system for long enough to be covered in case of disability. Additionally, an applicant must provide extensive medical evidence of a severe disability, illness or injury. The disability standard is so strict that fewer than four in ten applicants are approved for disability benefits, even after all stages of appeal. Many are terminally ill -- Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries are over three times more likely to die than others their age, and nearly one in five men and one in women die within five years of receiving benefits

During today’s hearing, you’ll likely hear rhetoric about the huge growth in the SSDI rolls. It’s true that SSDI is serving more people, but this growth is almost entirely due to changes in demographics. Anew study puts this in stark numbers: increases over the past four decades are almost entirely (90 percent) due to population growth, the aging of the baby boom generation into the high-disability years, and the entry of women in the workforce in greater numbers in the 1970s and 80s so that more are now insured based on their own contributions. Together, these three factors account for 94% of growth from 1990 – 2008. 

. . ."

Social Security disability fraud is rare  The Hill http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-budget/195559-social-secuity-disability-fraud-is-rare









Braxton Bragg, GeneralThere is something about this quote regarding General Bragg that reminds me of the disability adjudication system at the Social Security Administration, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.   Perhaps it has something to do with using a Dictionary of Occupational Titles last updated in 1991 to deny claims in 2014.

See  http://www.ssa.gov/oidap/panel_documents.htm


Ulysses S. Grant recalled in his memoirs a story about Bragg that seemed to suggest an essential need for proper procedure that bordered on mental instability. Once Bragg had been both a company commander as well as company quartermaster (the officer in charge of approving the disbursement of provisions). As company commander he made a request upon the company quartermaster--himself--for something he wanted. As quartermaster he denied the request and gave an official reason for doing so in writing. As company commander he argued back that he was justly entitled to what he requested. As quartermaster he stubbornly continued to persist in denying himself what he needed. Bragg requested the intervention of the post commander (perhaps to diffuse the impasse before it came to blows). His commander was incredulous and he declared, "My God, Mr. Bragg, you have quarreled with every officer in the army, and now you are quarreling with yourself."


Braxton Bragg http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/braxton-bragg.html



From the Economist:

". . .
Until now the jobs most vulnerable to machines were those that involved routine, repetitive tasks. But thanks to the exponential rise in processing power and the ubiquity of digitised information (“big data”), computers are increasingly able to perform complicated tasks more cheaply and effectively than people. Clever industrial robots can quickly “learn” a set of human actions. Services may be even more vulnerable. Computers can already detect intruders in a closed-circuit camera picture more reliably than a human can. By comparing reams of financial or biometric data, they can often diagnose fraud or illness more accurately than any number of accountants or doctors. One recent study by academics at Oxford University suggests that 47% of today’s jobs could be automated in the next two decades.
. . ."

Technology and jobs: Coming to an office near you | The Economist http://econ.st/1hvdxI0



I adapted SSA data into a spreadsheet.  It is available for download in two formats.  The data are the same, only the formats differ:  Note that I have added percentage calculations that were not provided by SSA.  I revised the spreadsheet on 1/17/14 to add color and to show Awards/Denials rather than Denials/Awards. 


Here is a sample of the spreadsheet, sorted to show Milwaukee ALJs: