Tuesday, December 8, 2015

What Happens When Allowance Rates Drop ... to the Public Fisc

Ask any ALJ or any representative that handles Social Security disability claims -- allowance rates have dropped for the good judges, the bad judges, and those in between.  According to the ALJ disposition data figures, the allowance rate of all dispositions in FY 2010  was 46%.  The allowance rate for all decisions was 67%.  The allowance rate for all dispositions in FY 2015 was 37%.  The allowance rate for all decision was 53%. 

The allowance rates dropped by 9% for all disposition and 14% of all ALJ decisions.  Good for the public fisc, right?  The answer is counter intuitive and  the dilution of allowance rates just hurts those that cannot fend for themselves -- the disabled.  But it also hurts the public fisc. 

President Reagan advocated and signed into law the Equal Access to Justice Act to to give common people the ability to fight unreasonable government action.   28 USC sec. 2412.  As long as the person or organization meets the financial ceiling test, that person or organization can shift part of the fees to the United States for acting unreasonably.  The rate is $125 per hour adjusted potentially for inflation. 

In FY 2010, SSA paid $19 million in EAJA fees for making or defending flawed decisions denying human beings disability benefits.  In FY 2015, SSA paid $38 million in EAJA fees.  What happens when the ALJ corps succumbs to political pressure to deny benefits?  The corps does it badly.  Does it benefit the public fisc?  Not in terms of EAJA fees, the government doubled its EAJA outlay in five short years. 

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