SSA is required to review at least half of the favorable disability determinations issued by state agencies. However, SSA also reviews a smaller number of unfavorable decisions prior to effectuation. This “Targeted Denial Review” (TDR) process keeps several thousand cases a year from being appealed to ALJs, and thus potentially reduces the hearings backlog and provides faster service for those claimants. SSA uses a predictive model to select cases for TDR, with the goal of locating the denials that are most likely to be reversed at the hearing level. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, SSA’s Office of Quality Review (OQR) performed 43,643 TDRs. The FY 2017 goal is 50,000 TDRs.


About two thirds of the claims returned to state agencies after a TDR result in the adjudicating component issuing a favorable decision. The “reversal rate” of returned claims has ranged from 63.5% to 68.3% in recent years. In FY 2016, adjudicating components issued favorable decisions on 66.4% of the cases returned to them after a TDR.


3,376 claims were reversed after in FY 2016. Since Fiscal Year 2012, more than 17,000 DDS-level denials were reversed through TDRs.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) has a report up on 4 Reasons Why Disability Insurance Is Especially Important to Less-Educated Workers.

The report suggests that less-educated workers are frequently people with lower cognitive abilities.  It is true that all indivudals are not above average. Some are born with lower cognitive abilities. The cognitive abilities of others are permanently stunted by difficult childhood circumstances. Lower cognitive abilities lead to lower educational achievements. Adult education is of only limited use for people with low cognitive abilities. They lack the ability to profit from it. People with lower cognitive ability are at a huge disadvantage when they develop medical or psychiatric problems. All they are suited to do is to work at jobs with low skill requirements and those jobs aren’t in offices. Those jobs generally involve significant exertional requirements and offer limited tolerance for psychiatric issues. If all you ever had to offer an employer was a strong back and a good attitude you’re in big trouble if your back loses its strength or your good attitude isn’t so good.


A recent article in USA Today, suggests that many retirees are doing financially better than generally reported.  Read the full article here:

Get rid of that notion that retirement must be a time to cut costs and pinch pennies. Rather, plenty of people seem to be in a position to splurge a bit after claiming Social Security benefits.

Most people are able to maintain or increase their spending slightly once they start receiving retirement benefits, according to a new report by economists at the Investment Company Institute and the Internal Revenue Service. The study, which analyzed tax data from 1999 to 2010, found that the typical worker had about 3% more after-tax spendable income after claiming Social Security benefits than before — and the lowest-income people had 29% more on average.

Social Security combined with other retirement sources such as workplace 401(k) plans and Individual Retirement Accounts thus provide “substantial income” for many people and more than is commonly assumed, the report said.

The researchers compared spendable income reported by people on their tax returns during the year before they first claimed Social Security benefits, while still working, and three years after they claimed. Spendable income was defined as that from jobs, Social Security benefits and other retirement sources. It increased for more than half of taxpayers over the comparison period.

In fact, more retirees received income from multiple sources than is commonly reported in government surveys, said Peter Brady, an economist at the institute who was part of the research team. He said this indicates government data understates income for retirees.

From a recent report from the Office of the Inspector General:

Statutory benefit continuation allows an individual to continue receiving disability benefits during the appeal of a medical cessation determination at the reconsideration or ALJ hearing levels. If the cessation determination is upheld after appeal, the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers the payments received during the appeals process overpayments the individual must return to SSA. 
We project SSA overpaid approximately $682.5 million to individuals in our population who continued receiving disability benefits during the appeals process but for whom ALJs upheld the cessation determinations from October 1, 2013 through July 8, 2016. This comprised $138.5 million overpaid to DI beneficiaries and $ 544 million overpaid to SSI recipients.
As of August 2016, SSA had collected only 4 percent, waived or terminated collection action on 17 percent, and posted another 37 per cent to the beneficiaries’ records but did not take action to collect, waive, or deem them uncollectible. SSA had not posted about 14 percent to the beneficiaries’ records for collection. Likewise, for the amount overpaid to the SSI recipients, SSA was in the process of collecting 61 percent. It had collected 2 percent, waived or terminated collection action on 13 percent, and had posted another 17 percent to the recipients’ records but did not take action to collect, waive, or deem them uncollectible. SSA had not posted 7 percent to the individuals’ records for collection. The average processing time for medical cessation appeals had increased from our prior reviews. Specifically, processing times were 766 days for sampled DI beneficiaries and 831 days for sampled SSI recipients — increases of 18 percent and 20 percent, respectively. If SSA prioritizes medical cessation appeals, it could increase DI and SSI programs’ financial performance. For example, we project SSA could have avoided $69.7 million in DI overpayments and $266 million in SSI overpayments had it completed the appeals process for medical cessation s within its processing time goals totaling 394 days. 
The agency’s response to the suggestion that it should prioritize cutting people off benefits because that would save money was to say “We agree.”

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