Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Senator Coburn's Suggestions for SS Disability as He Leaves Congress

Senator Coburn introduced legislation to amend the SS disability process on his way out the door.  The talk suggests that someone else will pick up the mantle to attack the SS disability process in the future.  A few of the proposals from the bill:

1. A government representative at all ALJ hearings. 

A bad proposal that does not fit. An ALJ should hear 500 cases per year. With an adversary system, the agency will need to quadruple the number of ALJs to circa 6000 and need at least 3000 attorneys to represent the agency at the hearing. The cost will cripple the disability adjudication for about 500,000 claims annually.

2. A requirement that representatives justify the fee they are authorized,

In the last 25 years, the market for representation has shifted from everything on fee petitions to most cases proceeding on a fee agreement process that assumes a fee of 25% of the past due or $6,000 (whichever is less) is reasonable. When fee petitions get filed, the ALJs take months or years to sign off on a fee authorization. While the fee agreement process yields an assembly line of representation, the ALJs are not ready to handle 250,000 fee petitions annually.

3. Scheduled Continuing Disability Reviews based on the individual’s type of impairment.

People can and do get better, or worse. A CDR process should exist.

4. Use of symptom validity testing.

Like what? Pain is idiosyncratic. Accept it and move on.