Questions about how to use the forum?

Visit our new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section.

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

August 14, 2022, 05:48:44 pm

Login with username, password and session length

Recent

Members
Stats
  • Total Posts: 245790
  • Total Topics: 24535
  • Online Today: 237
  • Online Ever: 1127
  • (January 16, 2020, 04:17:02 pm)
Users Online
Users: 1
Guests: 132
Total: 133

You are no longer alone ...

Author Topic: DDS Backlog and Points to Ponder  (Read 26295 times)

Kittyholic

  • ~ Platinum ~
  • *
  • Posts: 4904
  • People helped 42
  • The Catwhisperer
DDS Backlog and Points to Ponder
« on: November 10, 2010, 08:15:28 am »
There was discussion in another post about the DDS backlog and the increase in disability applications because of the current economic recession and job lay-offs. There have been several news reports about the same. These reports give a slanted view of a malingerer with an aversion to work, who opts to apply for disability rather than look for a new job.

Having been at the end of a reporter’s mike or pen several times in my previous life, I am leery of anything I see in print. Reporters choose to use the best sound bites, excluding information that gives a well-rounded view of the subject matter. I choose, instead to go to the source. In this case SSA itself. While caution should still be applied when looking at SSA press releases, they at least have the OIG looking over their shoulder. Their reports and raw data shed a different light on the overall backlog problem.

I see four contributing factors to the current backlog:

  • Quality Assurance Reviews: There are two types of Quality Assurance Reviews. The Disability Quality Assurance Review is a random review for both SSDI and SSI determinations. The Preeffectuation Review (PER) mandatorily reviews 50% of all FAVORABLE determinations. Until 2007 the PER was only required for SSDI determinations. Since 2007 it has also became a requirement for SSI determinations.
  • Current economic recession: Raw data downloaded from SSA indicates that since the beginning of 2008 there has been an overall increase of 30% in disability claims. During the same time period, retirement claims have increased by a reported 25%, indicating the long-predicted baby boomers have reached early or full retirement age. Disability claims include SSDI, SSI and Concurrent SSDI/SSI. SSDI claims have increased by 31.9%, SSI claims have increased by 32.2%, and concurrent SSDI/SSI claims have increased by 26.3%.
  • State furloughs: Since January 2009, 18 states have adopted required furlough for their employees; only 4 exempt DDS workers from the requirement. If you read no further, check this site to see if your state is one of the states experiencing furloughs. Use the slider at the bottom to see the months affected. Click the links at the top to see “Where the furloughs are” and “How Many Households Have Been Affected”. California is the highest, with an estimated 823,681 claims delayed, resulting in delayed benefits of over $23 million: http://www.ssa.gov/open/ODD/index.html
  • TANF/SSI Transition: Federal guidelines that went into effect in 2007 placed a 50% Work Participation Rate (WPR) for all recipients enrolled in TANF. Failure to meet the WPR results in large financial penalties to the States. One way to avoid the penalties is to refer non-working TANF recipients to SSI. SSA and DHHS have even joined in a demonstration project to develop policy for a TANF to SSI transition.

Does the TANF/SSI Transition have an affect on those applying for SSDI? I think it does, and why I believe it may possibly be the highest contributing factor to the current backlog. If you have applied, or will be applying, for SSDI, keep reading. I think you will find the information enlightening.


The Disability Programs:

One of the first things that must be understood is that there are two disability programs administered by SSA. They are the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, sometimes referred to as either Title II or simply Disability Insurance (DI); and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, sometimes referred to as Title XVI.

Under both programs, an applicant must be medically eligible, as well as technically eligible. Medical eligibility is the same for both programs. Technical eligibility is not.

Social Security Disability Insurance: The key word that seems to always be forgotten in the SSDI program is INSURANCE. This is a policy that you and your employer have contributed to during your years of employment. Technical eligibility is determined by the number of hours you have worked over your lifetime, with emphasis being placed on the 10 years prior to the onset of your disability. If you have earned enough work credits, should payment just be handed to you? Of course not. Any private long-term insurance policy has medical eligibility requirements that must be met. It is no different for SSDI applicants. They must meet the established medical eligibility requirements.

Supplemental Security Income: The key word for this program is INCOME. SSI is a needs-based program based on an individual’s income. It reaches disabled individuals who have not worked, or have not worked enough hours to earn the work credits required for SSDI. Technical eligibility is based on an individual’s income, and provides a monthly stipend to bring monthly income up to the established Federal Benefit Level (FBL). The FBL is determined by income, assets, living arrangements, and family size, which must be verified to establish technical eligibility.

Concurrent SSDI/SSI benefits: Can an individual qualify for both? Yes. It is possible for an individual to have enough work credits to meet SSDI technical requirements, but have a calculated benefit that falls below FBL. These individuals receive “concurrent” SSDI and SSI benefit payments. The SSI benefit will be the amount to bring total income up to FBL.


Reports and Data relied on:

This is a rather long narrative that has relied on several reports that can be downloaded from SSA’s website. Links for all reports referenced are provided at the end of this post.

There have been several times I have mentioned that I am expanding my current forms site. Part of that expansion has been to study some of Social Security’s reports, handbooks, rulings and guidance, for a better understanding of how the forms are used by SSA/DDS personnel. During some of my exploration, I’ve marked documents/reports and thought, “that looks interesting, I’ll study it someday”.

Recent questions and posts here have been nagging at something in the back of my mind. I know I’ve seen the answer to some of your questions, as well as some of my own. So, I decided to calm the nagging, by declaring today “someday”. I wish I had done it sooner. I was surprised at some of the things I learned. I’m sure you will be as well. I am giving you the highlights here. If you want a better insight into Social Security’s disability process, I would highly recommend reading the reports found at the end of this post.

The data relied on comes directly from the SSA State Agency Workload Data that is published at data.gov. I have maintained this in a database for several months, and despite my previous blip, I have double checked the calculations used here and feel reasonably confident they are accurate. One of the methods I used to verify the calculations was by comparison to the statistics reported in the annual Performance and Accountability Reports (PAR).

So, you can imagine my dismay when my total applications and total determinations did not match those reported in the PAR. After going back to 2005, and still finding the deviation, studying where I could be wrong, I finally realized that I wasn’t wrong at all. This is where not relying entirely on what is reported by SSA is advisable.

The downloaded data is broken out into Initial, Reconsideration and Continuing Disability Review (CDR). I finally realized that the PAR did not make a distinction for Reconsideration. It did for Initial, CDR, Hearings and Appeals. When I added the Initial and Reconsiderations from the State Agency Workload Data together, I finally came up with the same number of “initial” applications and determinations reported in the PAR. Personally, I would not consider Reconsideration to be part of the Initial Application, but it appears to be how SSA has considered it since as early as 2005. The data I will present does not combine the two. When I refer to Initial, I will mean the first and only application.

I have also found that some SSA reports present different annual statistics for what appear to be the same time period. The fact is they are not the same time period. Some reports are for the calendar year period (January – December) and others are for the fiscal year (October – September). However, even some of the SSA reports state they are reporting the fiscal year (FY), when in fact they are reporting the calendar year. I know this because I have run totals of both. Since the fiscal year ended September 30th, all data I provide will be based on fiscal years.

Now that you have a better understanding of the background, take a break and come back to read the rest. I do believe you will find it interesting reading. I certainly found it interesting discovery, and wish I had taken the time to study the information sooner.

Quality Assurance:

I start with Quality Assurance, not because it is the greatest contributing factor to the backlog, but because it is something on everyone’s mind.

Each year the SSA publishes a Performance and Accountability Report (PAR). Buried in the 200+ pages is the answer to the burning question of how files are selected for Quality Review, how many are selected, as well as the number of approvals and denials that are chosen. I think this may also answer the question about why some people are told they are approved by the SSA Field Office, only to later be informed their file has been selected for Quality Review.

According to the PAR, there are 2 types of Quality Assurance Reviews. One is a random selection of all decisions made for Initial claims, Reconsideration Requests and Continuing Disability Reviews, and is described as:

Quote
Disability Quality Assurance Reviews:

We perform quality assurance reviews of random samples of disability Determination Services (DDS) determinations to measure the level of accuracy against standards mandated by the Regulations. These reviews are conducted prior to the effectuation of the DDS determinations and cover initial claims, reconsideration claims, and determinations of continuing eligibility. The following table shows that, for favorable determinations, the state DDSs have consistently made the correct decision to allow or continue benefits.

The results for the years 2006 – 2009 are:


As you can see, a very small percentage is selected randomly for the Quality Assurance Reviews. The greatest number is selected for the Preeffectuation Review, which is a review of 50% of cases with FAVORABLE determinations. The selection process is less random, and described as:

Quote
Title II Preeffectuation Reviews:

We also perform preeffectuation reviews of favorable Title II and concurrent Title II/Title XVI initial and reconsideration determinations using a profiling system to select cases for review. This helps ensure the cost-effectiveness of preeffectuation reviews and satisfies the legislative requirement that the cases reviewed are those that are most likely to be incorrect. We also review a sufficient number of continuing disability review continuance determinations to ensure a high level of accuracy in those cases.

(and later described as)

The Social Security Act also requires a review of 50 percent of the favorable DI and concurrent DI/SSI initial and reconsideration DDS determinations; i.e., pre-effectuation reviews (PER). To the extent feasible, we make the selection from those determinations most likely to be incorrect.

The final sentence in the above description does not suggest this is a random selection process. It suggests the selection is a thought-out, reasoned process. I now count three people at this forum that have been told, not by DDS, but by the SSA Field Office that their case has been approved. Their bank information has even been verified for direct deposit. Days later, they are informed their case was selected for Quality Review. Happening to one person might suggest a fluke. Happening to three people suggests a problem in the selection and routing process. It appears that there is a break-down between the Preeffectuation Review selection (approved cases) and the SSA field office.

As you can see in the table below, there is a tremendous increase in the number of Preeffectuation Reviews over the Quality Assurance Reviews. Note the % of All Cases is not 50%. It is the percent of all cases, not the percent of all approvals. Also note the number of determinations is not the same as in the Quality Assurance Review. The Preeffectuation Review does not include CDRs.


In 2007, SSI approvals also became subject to the Preeffectuation Review, and are described as:

Quote
Title XVI Preeffectuation Reviews:

Following legislation enacted in February 2006, we began preeffectuation reviews of favorable Title XVI initial and reconsideration adult determinations. FY 2007 was the first full year of review. As in Title II cases, we also use a profiling system to select cases for review. The following table shows that over 98 percent of the decisions made on Title XVI preeffectuation reviews are accurate.

The results of the SSI Preeffectuation reviews are:


The number of cases returned to DDS from the 2007 addition of SSI Preeffectuation reviews is not significant, and I doubt it contributes to the backlog. However, I do believe it has changed the amount of time spent in making the determinations.

If you look at the percentage of cases selected for the Quality Assurance Review, the random selection is just over 1% of all determinations. Until 2007, the concern to dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s for SSI approvals would not have been as big of concern to examiners. However, with the inclusion of SSI approvals in the Preeffectuation Reviews in 2007, I imagine examiners have paid more attention to the SSI approvals than previously, thereby slowing the overall determination time.


Economic Recession:
Has the economic recession contributed to the increase in disability applications? Most certainly. However, I’m not entirely convinced it is a simple matter of people choosing SSDI over work after loosing a job. I’m more inclined to believe it is the aging baby-boomer population that has reached “advanced age” or are “approaching advanced age”. They were raised to believe in the principal of work as a means of support. They haven’t thought of SSDI as an option and have continued to work in spite of their disability. But, after loss of employment, they are unable to find employers willing to hire a person approaching advanced age that also has a disability.

This can even be seen in the increase of applications for early retirement benefits. Employers have their choice of younger workers, who can make a longer commitment to a company. In his statement to the House Ways and Means Committee on April 15, 2010, Michael Astrue (SSA Commissioner) reported:

Quote
The baby-boomer tsunami hit us and, more recently, the recession has driven an extra million economically-distressed workers and families to look to us for help each year.

In the same testimony Mr. Astrue also stated:

Quote
The Nation's recent economic recession, the worst since the Great Depression, has driven millions to us for assistance; we are flooded with retirement and disability claims. Based on the most recent economic assumptions for FY 2010, we estimate that we will receive over 375,000 more retirement, auxiliary, and survivors' claims and over 730,000 more disability claims than we estimated for FY 2010 only two years ago.

Keep in mind that the estimated 730,000 disability claims include applications for both disability programs – and as described above – includes Reconsiderations. Actual data from 2010 shows that there was an increase in initial claims of 237,000 – 9.3%.

For those who would choose to believe that unemployed workers filing for SSDI are the driving force behind the current DDS backlog, I would invite you to look at 2007-2010 increases:


If, in fact it were the unemployed workers filing for disability, you would expect to see SSDI claims the highest percentage increase. However it is SSI claims (non-workers) that hold the highest increase since the beginning of 2008.

During the same time period the backlog increased by 39% overall.


During 2008, there was some progress made in reducing the backlog. Even into 2009, the increase was only 5.7%. It was during 2010 that saw the largest percentage increase in the backlog was seen. That was also addressed by Mr. Astrue in his testimony…


State Furloughs and Hiring Freezes:

Mr. Astrue’s testimony:

Quote
We escalated our hiring in FY 2009. By the end of FY 2010, we expect to have 2,800 more DDS employees on board than we had at the end of FY 2008, and we will hire additional DDS staff in FY 2011. State furloughs of DDS employees, however, have impeded some of our progress in reducing the backlog. We need the full complement of DDS employees for our hiring strategy to be successful, and state furloughs of these employees only undermine our efforts. We appreciate your help as we try to convince the governors and legislatures that furloughing federally-funded employees only hurts our most vulnerable citizens as well as their States' economies without any benefit to State budgets.

In his report to the House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means, on November 19, 2009, Patrick P. O'Carroll, Jr., Inspector General, had this to say:

Quote
The current disability backlog stands at over three-quarters of a million applications-some 38 percent higher than a year ago. This resulted from a 15 percent increase in claims filed, against only an 8 percent increase in claims actually processed by the State Disability Determination Services (DDS). These delays are caused not only by the increase in applications, however, but also by State furloughs, staffing problems, and other issues.
The furloughs are particularly troublesome. Federal regulations discourage furloughs of DDS personnel, but this has not stopped furloughs from occurring. To date, nine states are furloughing all their DDS employees and three states are furloughing some DDS employees.

In states that are furloughing all of their DDS employees, this has created a 14 percent shortfall of capacity for processing claims


And, this from the U.S. Government Accountability Office in its April 27, 2010 Publication “Social Security Disability: Management of Disability Claims Workload Will Require Comprehensive Planning”:

Quote
Agency officials have attributed this increase to, among other things, a growth in recent applications and to state personnel furloughs, which affected DDS worker productivity.
Therefore, in its 2011 annual performance plan, SSA reported that while it continues to consider the hearings backlog to be its top priority, it is also developing strategies to reduce the number of initial claims that are pending. These strategies are outlined as (1) working with states to avoid hiring freezes and furloughs, (2) hiring additional DDS employees, (3) increasing DDS overtime to provide maximum flexibility to address increasing workloads, (4) simplifying policies to make adjudicating claims easier, and (5) adding personnel to staff both federal and state units that handle initial disability claims for areas of the country that have been hit particularly hard.

Need I say more on that subject?


TANF-SSI Transition:

To understand Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and how it affects SSI, it is important to first have a little background on TANF.

TANF was created through the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, commonly referred to as Welfare Reform. TANF replaced the former AFDC. AFDC was permanent assistance. TANF is not. It is intended to be transitional in nature with an emphasis on reducing dependence on public assistance through employment.

TANF is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). States and local DHHS offices are given some flexibility to create a program that meets their needs. However, they are also subject to several federal requirements that include an increasing percentage of adult recipients engaged in work or work-related activities – defined by a participation in a minimum number of work-related hours that can include such things like community service, job search, and job training.

States must also enforce a 60-month limit on the length of time a family can receive TANF assistance, but have the discretion to set a lower limit. And, until 2007 states also had the flexibility to grant waivers to the Work Participation Rate (WPR). One of the waivers states could apply was for TANF recipients that had applied for SSI. As of 2007 states must now meet a minimum 50% WPR, or face financial sanctions. While states can still grant their own waiver to SSI applicants, the SSI applicant must be included in the WPR.

In 2006 SSA’s Office of Policy studied the effect of this change on SSI, and offered this forecast:

Quote
The Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) of 2005 reauthorized TANF through fiscal year 2010, but with some rules changes that are important in light of the analysis presented in this article. The new law substantially increases effective federal requirements for work participation by adult TANF recipients and mandates that adults in Separate State Programs be included in participation requirements beginning in fiscal year 2007. Thus SSPs will no longer provide a means for exempting from work requirements families that are in the process of applying for SSI, and the increased emphasis on work participation could result in more SSI applications from adult TANF recipients.
Declining real benefits combined with increasing obligations for recipients to participate in work and work-related activities have made the transfer from TANF to SSI more attractive for recipients with disabilities.

In 2008 SSA partnered with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in a demonstration project to develop assistance for transition of TANF recipients to SSI. SSA briefly describes it at their research site:

http://www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/projects.htm#TANF

And DHHS goes into a little more detail at their site:

http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/welfare_employ/tanf_ssi/tanf_ssi_overview.html

The project was actually recommended by the Government Accountability Office in its 2004 report: “TANF AND SSI: Opportunities Exist to Help People with Impairments Become More Self-Sufficient.” While the report uses the premise of self-sufficiency in the title, the emphasis is on the suggestion of a joint demonstration project. Expectations of this project can best be described in this paragraph:

Quote
In describing his office’s interactions with SSA, one state TANF official we interviewed said that his office, SSA, and DDS have a good working relationship, which includes cross training between the agencies and discussions concerning the SSI application process. However, estimates from our survey showed about 95 percent of county TANF offices reported that they would like to develop a relationship, or improve their relationship, with their local SSA field office with regard to adult TANF recipients applying for SSI. One state TANF official that we interviewed said that his office does not have much of a relationship with SSA. He noted that he had no contacts within SSA but would like to develop a formal relationship with DDS so that they could make faster determinations for the deferred TANF caseload. A county TANF official we interviewed said that her office’s communication with SSA is largely one-sided. This TANF official explained that even though her office sends documentation that supports a recipient’s SSI application, SSA does not inform them of any eligibility decisions it makes with TANF applicants. As a result, TANF staff must rely on their recipients telling them about decisions or on a computer system that indicates if an individual is receiving benefits. Finally, in all of the states we visited, TANF officials told us that they interact with SSA to assist their TANF recipients with impairments get onto SSI.  Estimates from our survey also showed that 64 percent of counties reported that their interactions were TANF officials following up with SSA regarding a recipient’s SSI application, and 53 percent reported having a contact at SSA to discuss cases.

Many DHHS offices have already developed SSI advocacy programs to better assist TANF recipients through their SSI application. Even a former District Supervisor for the SSA has formed a company to advocate for TANF recipients applying for SSI. The home page of that site lists the benefits of their services as:

Quote
Increased SSI/SSDI enrollment benefits your state and county:
  • States and counties gain from the TANF savings and federal payment of the SSI benefit.
  • States and counties retain that savings under TANF.

SSI/SSDI enrollment can impact Work Participation Rates (WPR):
Enrolling TANF recipients onto SSI allows the Agency to remove these clients from their caseload. As well, the implementation of new federal guidelines associated with the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 has made it increasingly difficult for states to meet WPRs. Failure to meet WPR goals can result in financial
penalties, but states may avoid these WPR penalties if adults with disabilities can satisfy SSI eligibility requirements.

SSI/SSDI enrollment benefits recipients:
  • The monthly SSI payment is greater than the TANF payment.

We allow state and county disability claiming programs to achieve the highest rate of success in the shortest time frames. We actively pursue the maximum number of claims available, focusing intensively on the initial level of adjudication. We also provide full-service representation of our clients throughout the process, including actively seeking out the necessary medical, vocational, and functional documentation to build the strongest possible case for allowance of all our claims.

With so many phone calls from SSI advocates both at the public and private level, is it any wonder that an individual applicant applying for SSDI finds it almost impossible to talk with their case worker/examiner?

Will this affect the timeliness of DDS determinations? Has it already? I think it can best be illustrated in the difference between the percentage of claims closed for each program type. In 2007 all percentages were within 0.6% of the total percent of claims closed. Beginning in 2008 the determinations for SSI and Concurrent applicants started to increase, until by 2010, the percent of SSDI claims closed by DDS is close to 3% below SSI applicants and 4% less than Concurrent applicants.


In addition, there is the added workload of the technical eligibility verifications for SSI applicants, the increased phone calls from TANF offices and advocates, and the urgency/pressure to make a decision on SSI cases that are bringing down the Work Participation Rate.

I have worked with governments and municipalities at all levels: local, county and State. I have studied their budgeting and spending practices, and the one thing that holds true of all is that they do not look for ways to reduce spending. Nor do they attempt to raise property/state/income taxes, as taxpayer response is predictable. Instead they look for ways to increase federal grants. Most have extensive grant writing departments, and a far-reaching network of lobbyists to assure that when competing grant funds become available they are at the head of the line.

TANF is a grant. But TANF is a block-grant. Block grants are federal formula-based grants. The formula is typically determined by the population and demographics reported in the most recent US Census. Block grants require no long application process or lobbying. The only effort required is once every 10 years – advertising for and encouraging census response.  

The Disability Determination Services are state agencies and most are a division of DHHS, the very agency responsible for administering the TANF block grants. Under those circumstances it is difficult to maintain impartiality. There may not be a written or verbal policy to give priority to SSI applications. Policy does not necessarily need to be written. Many times policy is simply implied. It can be as simple as a supervisor making the statement that claims need to be processed quicker because it has an effect on the TANF block grant. It wouldn’t even necessary to state that SSI claims need to move quicker. If they are receiving TANF, it is implied. It can also be as simple as a TANF office or advocate making a plea about the WPR. Subtle remarks can be all that is needed to influence the decision making process.

States have a monetary stake in seeing that TANF recipients applying for SSI move through the determination process quickly. SSI applicants are still counted in the WPR. Failure to maintain 50% WPR can result in sanctions and/or loss of benefits from the block grants.

In private enterprise this would be considered a conflicting interest.


State Level TANF/SSI Activity

The Work Participation Rate (WPR) Interim Final Rule was published June 29, 2006, allowing public comment before the Final Rule.

The Final Rule was published February 5, 2008, and became effective October 1, 2008, creating some controversy about the requirement to meet the WPR for FY 2007. In the end, DHHS published the State WPR’s on August 28, 2009 – only a month before the start of FY 2010. At that time, only 10 states had achieved 50% WPR; however all but 14 states were able to apply caseload reduction credits (achieved by reducing the total number of families receiving assistance). The 2008 WPR’s were published February 17, 2010. Only three states had achieved 50% WPR; all but 12 were able to apply caseload reduction credits.  Those states that were unable to meet target with the caseload reduction credits are subject to potential penalties.

The Final Rule made some minor changes to the Interim Rule pertaining to applicants for SSI. The most important was discussed by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in its February 20, 2008 report, “Summary of Final TANF Rules Some Improvements Around the Margins”:

Quote
While HHS does not exclude SSI or SSDI applicants from the definition of work-eligible individual, it allows states to revise data retroactively to exclude individuals whose SSI or SSDI applications are approved within the reporting year; see 45 CFR § 265.7(b) on data reporting. After an individual is approved for SSI or SSDI, the state may revise its work participation data by December 31 for the preceding fiscal year (that ended September 30) to exclude persons who whose SSI or SSDI applications were approved. Often the time period for approval of an application for SSI or SSDI may take longer than a year, particularly if an appeal to an administrative hearing is required. In light of the limited window during which an SSI or SSDI applicant can be excluded retroactively after benefits have been authorized by the Social Security Administration, states may want to enhance or initiate projects that that assist families with the SSDI and SSI application process. If an application is approved initially, rather than requiring a lengthy appeal, the state will be able to exclude the family from the work participation rate sooner, and for more (perhaps all) of the time period during which the application was pending

Although this seems to address both SSI and SSDI applicants, they further state:

Quote
The same disability standard is used for SSI and SSDI eligibility. Thus, while as a practical matter, most families receiving SSDI have income above TANF income limits, where the family is needy enough to receive TANF and SSDI, the change recognizes that the SSDI recipient should be treated the same way as an SSI recipient with respect to their ability to engage in work activities.

How is this important? The States can remove the SSI applicant retroactively from a Fiscal Year (September 30th) WPR, only if the application is Approved prior to the end of the reporting period (December 31st). So, an SSI applicant that applies on September 1st can be removed from the WPR retroactively if the application is approved on December 31st. The same applicant cannot be removed retroactively if the application is not approved until January 2nd.

If there is any doubt the 2005 DRA and the new rules applicable to WPR have affected the outcome of DDS determinations, the following tables should ease those doubts. Both tables represent the difference in SSI/Concurrent determination rates to SSDI determination rates.  So, if the determination rate for SSI/Concurrent applicants was 10%, and the SSDI determination rate for the same period was 9%, the difference reported in the tables would be 1%. Both tables represent the differences that are in favor of SSDI applicants as a red/negative percentage (-1%).

I have chosen to combine the SSI and Concurrent applicants, since the table earlier in this section shows the SSI applicants and Concurrent applicants are processed generally the same, and analysis of the individual states shows true as well. This may be an indication of applicants that have worked sporadically through TANF employment programs.

This first table is strictly a visual representation that demonstrates the range of differences beginning with FY 2006. In 2006 the highest difference was SSI determinations were 11.3% higher than SSDI determinations, and the lowest difference was 5.8% in favor of SSDI determinations. As you can see there is very little change from 2006 to 2007. Beginning with 2008, a little more preference is given to SSI determinations. FY 2009, the preference is more obvious. Finally with FY 2010, there is a marked difference with all but 3 states escalating the SSI determinations.


The next table represents the individual State determination activity since 2006. You can see that there are several states with unusual activity in FY 2007 and 2008. These may be states that were proactive and met their WPR target for those years. The table is ordered by the states that have demonstrated the highest percentage difference for FY 2009 and 2010. Is your state among the top 10? Or, is your state one of the states still scrambling to make FY 2010 quota before the end of the reporting period (December 31st)?


While there appear to be some aberrations in determination rates, there are several states that show an obvious change in practice: NJ, PA, KS, NV just to name a few.

I will continue to follow the 2010 determination process and report state activity for the months of October – December as the reports become available – typically between the 15th and 20th of the following month. October 2010 data has not yet been published.


My Ponderings:

Having worked with public assistance agencies in my previous life, I am well aware of the attitude that many of the DHHS workers and advocates have. There is a reason people choose a career in public assistance. It is a desire to make a difference. I know. I have been there.

Unfortunately the desire to assist the public assistance recipients and applicants is in direct conflict with the desire to assist SSDI applicants. There is a sense of urgency to take care of the less fortunate. What is not considered is that most TANF recipients reside in HUD subsidized housing, paying little or no rent. Loss of income does not mean loss of home. In addition TANF recipients have access to non-cash benefits like food stamps and Medicaid that SSDI applicants do not.

While a TANF recipient waits for a SSI determination, there is no fear of loosing their home. SSDI recipients, on the other hand, stand to loose everything they have worked years to accomplish. We have heard many of those stories here at this forum.

Should SSDI applicants be given different treatment? I believe they should. SSDI applicants are applying to draw on their INSURANCE policy. They are not applying for public assistance. I believe there should be two distinct determination services. Those that process SSDI insurance applications and those that process SSI public assistance applications.

I have used historic tax tables to determine the amount I have paid into Social Security in the 37 years I worked. My estimated payment has been close to $70,000. Since that is matched by the employer, total contributions to Social Security on my behalf come close to $140,000. In addition, I estimate that during the same 37 years, I have paid over $400,000 in federal taxes – some of which goes to fund TANF and SSI.

I believe the $140,000 paid for my Social Security Insurance policy has earned me the right to wait with or behind only those that are also policy holders. The federal taxes I have paid will take care of the public-assistance applicants.

I mean no disrespect or offense to SSI applicants. SSI applicants should be given assistance with the application process and their applications processed by people who truly care and want to help.

I simply believe SSDI applicants should be treated in accordance with their application type, which is not public assistance, but an insurance claim.

_____________
Links:

Statement of Michael Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security Administration, before the House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Social Security, April 15, 2010
http://www.ssa.gov/legislation/testimony_041510.htm

SSA State Agency Workload Data
http://www.data.gov/raw/1523

SSA Performance and Accountability Reports
http://www.ssa.gov/finance/index.html

U.S. Government Accountability Office Publication GAO-10-667T –“Social Security Disability: Management of Disability Claims Workload Will Require Comprehensive Planning”
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-667T

The Honorable Patrick P. O'Carroll, Jr., Inspector General, Social Security Administration U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, Hearing on Clearing the Disability Claims Backlogs: The Social Security Administration's Progress and New Challenges Arising From the Recession
http://www.ssa.gov/oig/communications/testimony_speeches/11192009testimony.htm

SSA Office of Policy – The TANF Connection:
http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v66n4/v66n4p21.html

U.S. Government Accountability Office Publication GAO-04-878 TANF AND SSI:
Opportunities Exist to Help People with Impairments Become More Self-Sufficient
http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04878.pdf

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities “Summary of Final TANF Rules Some Improvements Around the Margins”
http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1084

« Last Edit: March 02, 2011, 04:35:34 am by plgerrard »
The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it. (Richard Bach)

Dragon Fly

  • Glitter Queen SSDFacts Doughnator
  • SSDFacts VIP
  • ~ Platinum ~
  • *
  • Posts: 8719
  • People helped 36
  • Mood Swing Goddess of the West Tinfoil Crinkle
Re: DDS Backlog and Points to Ponder
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2010, 09:53:07 am »
Pati, thank you for posting this. I'm in CA so my eyes turned to stone as I was reading the stats. But I have to admit, it helps to know this. If for no other reason than to keep my nerves as low as possible. I'm all about logical explanations!! Thank you!!
>;<
Dragon Fly
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." --  Friedrich Nietzsche

myaccount

  • Guest
Re: DDS Backlog and Points to Ponder
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2010, 11:52:43 am »
Wow ........... Pati, I am in awe of your analytic skills. You've put together an amazing summary of this complicated subject.

To address the subject of furloughs specifically: I read a newspaper article a few months ago about an analysis done by the California state budget office that showed that at that point California's furlough program had COST - not SAVED - the state close to 4 billion dollars. As I recall (this is from memory) the causes of the loss fell into two general categories: 1) loss of federal dollars, and 2) reduced tax receipts from both income and sales taxes secondary to the decreased income of state workers.

Apparently, just eliminating furloughs for federally-funded state employees (like DDS workers) would go a long way towards solving California's "budget crisis". *sigh* But has anyone listened? No.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.  >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:(


Kittyholic

  • ~ Platinum ~
  • *
  • Posts: 4904
  • People helped 42
  • The Catwhisperer
Re: DDS Backlog and Points to Ponder
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2010, 11:58:20 am »
Dragon Fly: I thought of you when I found that link and saw California at the top of the list. I wish you lived in another state, or at least California was somewhere near the bottom of the list. But - December is right around the corner.

newaccount: Thanks ! Can you tell it is something I actually enjoy doing?

And thanks for the info on the Cost to California. That is true. SSA reimburses the DDS for their employment costs. So, they are saving nothing by furloughing the DDS workers. What I read was that some states didn't want to give the DDS workers preferential treatment.

You are so right - stupid stupid stupid
The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it. (Richard Bach)

Trajector Media

  • Administrator
  • ~ Platinum ~
  • ****
  • Posts: 14818
  • People helped 418
Re: DDS Backlog and Points to Ponder
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2010, 09:22:28 pm »
Pati,
     You already know you are my hero and it is information like this that keeps you up on that pedestal.  I read this report with my mouth open the entire time.  If this doesn't make someone stop and think, I don't know what will.  I am for once ALMOST speechless. 
     Thank you for sharing this and I will be reviewing it again as I feel like I learn something every single time.
Marci
I speak from experience not expertise.

Kittyholic

  • ~ Platinum ~
  • *
  • Posts: 4904
  • People helped 42
  • The Catwhisperer
Re: DDS Backlog and Points to Ponder
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2010, 04:47:44 am »
Wow, Marci, now you’ve left me speechless.

I think we’ve figured out a way to override the space limitation, so for those who are unable to download the pdf, I’ll be reposting in the next couple of days directly into the forum.

Thank you all for the kind words. All of you, especially Marci, are my inspiration.
The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it. (Richard Bach)

se0269

  • Guest
Re: DDS Backlog and Points to Ponder
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2010, 09:06:21 am »
Plgerrard your info is totally awesome. My head is hard enough to drill for diamonds, however, I am floored and there is no way I can add or take away anything in your post.

Kittyholic

  • ~ Platinum ~
  • *
  • Posts: 4904
  • People helped 42
  • The Catwhisperer
Re: DDS Backlog and Points to Ponder
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2010, 11:33:27 am »
Update - Individual State Data added

I was asked to attempt including entire narrative in the actual post rather than pdf attachment. I have accomplished that (Whew).

At the same time, I have updated and added a section with state level activity. If you are interested, you can find near the end of the post.
The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it. (Richard Bach)

Trajector Media

  • Administrator
  • ~ Platinum ~
  • ****
  • Posts: 14818
  • People helped 418
Re: DDS Backlog and Points to Ponder
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2010, 07:09:36 pm »
Thank you so much Pati, this is a great way to view the info without having to download the file.  I know some people are nervous to download anything and I would hate for them to miss this post.
Marci
I speak from experience not expertise.

Dragon Fly

  • Glitter Queen SSDFacts Doughnator
  • SSDFacts VIP
  • ~ Platinum ~
  • *
  • Posts: 8719
  • People helped 36
  • Mood Swing Goddess of the West Tinfoil Crinkle
Re: DDS Backlog and Points to Ponder
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2010, 12:34:26 am »
Thanks for making it harder for me to ignore.
>;<
 :-*

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." --  Friedrich Nietzsche

xanderb1

  • Guest
Re: DDS Backlog and Points to Ponder
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2010, 03:33:19 pm »
thank you for all that information.  It would be really nice if that information could be given to the right government agency

Dragon Fly

  • Glitter Queen SSDFacts Doughnator
  • SSDFacts VIP
  • ~ Platinum ~
  • *
  • Posts: 8719
  • People helped 36
  • Mood Swing Goddess of the West Tinfoil Crinkle
Re: DDS Backlog and Points to Ponder
« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2010, 06:00:00 pm »
Just a California update...I applied on October 8th. For some reason DDS did not get my file until October 20th. I was told it should be assigned to an examiner by December 1st. But, have now been told the backlog is pushing them out even further, as much as 12 weeks before even being assigned. Uuuughhh.
>;<
« Last Edit: November 19, 2010, 06:06:33 pm by Dragon Fly »
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." --  Friedrich Nietzsche

myaccount

  • Guest
Re: DDS Backlog and Points to Ponder
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2010, 06:16:25 pm »
Just a California update...I applied on October 8th. For some reason DDS did not get my file until October 20th. I was told it should be assigned to an examiner by December 1st. But, have now been told the backlog is pushing them out even further, as much as 12 weeks before even being assigned. Uuuughhh.

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggghhhh ... how did you hear that depressing little piece of news? Did you call the DDS office?

Dragon Fly

  • Glitter Queen SSDFacts Doughnator
  • SSDFacts VIP
  • ~ Platinum ~
  • *
  • Posts: 8719
  • People helped 36
  • Mood Swing Goddess of the West Tinfoil Crinkle
Re: DDS Backlog and Points to Ponder
« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2010, 06:40:25 pm »
Yes! DDS in Stockton, CA has my case. I asked if there was any way to know where I am in line....answer no of course... :(
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." --  Friedrich Nietzsche

Sara

  • Guest
Re: DDS Backlog and Points to Ponder
« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2010, 04:33:40 am »
My file is with Fresno DDS, and I filed June 18, 2010. They have sent me for evaluations, which was done the 3rd week of Nov. So it has been almost 6 months since I filed, and not a word. They said SSDI could take 90-120 days, which is not true.