According to a U.S. Government investigator, the Social Security Administration (SSA) paid out $6.5 billion in 2009 to people who were not rightfully entitled to those funds. Roughly two thirds of that were under a program which aims to help the most financially disadvantaged among us. In most cases, these overpayments were because the recipients had income or other assets that were unreported or under-reported. In simpler terms, this really means that the funds were obtained under fraudulent circumstances.
Lawmakers who are part of the legislative subcommittee which oversees Social Security are asking for an investigation into the procedure by which disability payments are authorized. At the center of the controversy is an administrative law judge from Huntington, West Virginia named David B. Daugherty, who in fiscal year 2010 awarded benefits to a whopping 99.7% of the claimants on his case load.
Ora Williams has worked her entire adult life. She raised six children on the income provided by her production job. Unfortunately, she has little to show for it. Her savings, pension and retirements have all been depleted by a year-long fight to receive disability benefits.
Like most of us, Ora trusted that the money which was being withdrawn from every pay check would be there one day when she needed it. She counted on the fact that Social Security would provide exactly that: security. However, it hasn’t worked out that way.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has been dealing with a significant bottleneck in the hearing process for disability cases for the majority of the last decade. The greatest apparent culprit is the economy, with fewer available dollars translating to reduced staffing and budget cuts.
Each year for nearly a decade, the President’s Budget has fallen dramatically short of what has been requested by the commissioner of the SSA. During most of the same period, the number of pending disability cases has soared to more than three-quarters of a million per year.
June has been named the official ALS Awareness Month by the ALS Association. ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, but is better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The more familiar term was coined after Major League Baseball player Lou Gehrig’s very public battle with the disease. Gehrig contracted the disease at the age of 36, which ended his career in the Major Leagues and ultimately took his life two years later.
It’s not every day someone is convicted of committing fraud against two major government programs at the same time. In Fort Smith, Arkansas, a woman named Carolyn Faye Summerhill pled guilty and was convicted of fraud against both the Social Security Administration and the Food and Drug Administration’s WIC program. She will be sentenced at a later date, but will face up to 10 years in prison in addition to being forced to pay back over $200,000 to the SSA, the WIC program, as well as several banks.
Long waits are not uncommon to veterans waiting for their cases to be reviewed by Veterans Administration offices across the country. There is a typically heavy load of cases in every office, but in the state of Maine, some veterans are being told they may have to wait up to 2 years for their cases to be seen. The root cause for this is the recent ruling in favor of Agent Orange disability claims.
Illinois’s Republican Representative Judy Biggert is making an effort to keep veterans in her state informed about benefits and medical information that affect them. Last week she, along with a VA Hospital Director, Sharon Helman, and the VA Regional Director Duane Honeycutt, met with about 50 local veterans at the Bolingbrook Municipal Building for a forum on veterans’ concerns.
A 66-year old man from Las Vegas will be spending the next eighteen months in prison, but not for one of the typical kinds of gambling crimes associated with Sin City. Paul Smith risked much more than he realized when he decided to work ‘under the table’ while collecting disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Lately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has been receiving a lot of things, but most of them are not awards and praise. The Administration has been receiving criticism from all fronts and budget cuts from the Senate, all the while embroiled in the center of heated political party debates. In the midst of a financial crisis and pressure to reform, it is hard to see the positive. But there are indeed positive things happening in the SSA, and the Graduate School USA was pleased last week to bring attention to one of them.