Wednesday, September 26, 2012

SSA Erred in Paying Disability Benefits

During an 18-month investigation conducted by the chamber’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, it was revealed that the Social Security Administration (SSA) improperly paid disability benefits in more than a quarter of cases examined between 2006 and 2010.

The said investigation headed by Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn revealed that of 300 disability cases that they randomly selected, more than 25 percent of which received benefits without properly addressing insufficient, contradictory, and incomplete evidence.

According to Sen. Coburn, the bipartisan report presents information gathered over the past few years and concluded that the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are swinging on financial bankruptcy. 

In its 136-page report, the senate focused on notable benefits rulings made by SSA’s administrative law judges, including the one in Oklahoma who was found to have awarded more than $1.6 billion in lifetime benefits in just a matter of three years. It appeared from the investigation that Judge Howard O’Bryan of Oklahoma City approved approximately 90 percent of more than 5,400 cases between 2007 and 2009 and most of them are surprisingly confirmed without hearings.

Other than that, the report further discovered that the agency added 5.9 million Americans to the disability benefit rolls since January 2009. Therefore, in 2010, 10.6 million people were receiving over $128 billion in disability benefit payments. Also, the report concluded that several administrative judges used ‘cut and paste’ images of medical records in favorable award decisions instead of including written analysis.

In a Capitol Hill hearing, Sen. Coburn noted that although the purpose of the disability benefit program is to make sure that all Americans will have a secured source of income once they become disabled and can no longer work, it should be kept in mind that such law means being unable to work any job in the national economy.

Meanwhile, in response to the previous investigation, the SSA has undertaken a strong set of initiatives since the time when most of the questioned cases were resolved. The agency has recently made substantial progress according to the agency’s spokesperson, Mark Hinkle.

Unfortunately, each erred decisions possibly cost billions of taxpayers’ money, according to several Los Angeles social security disability lawyers. Nevertheless, they admire how the senate and the agency worked together to crack down frauds and other improper conducts related to disability benefits.