She Voted For Trump

July 11, 2018

While I don’t typically post positions that take a strong political stance, I was intrigued by this article I saw on

Krista Shockey voted for President Trump in November. Now she’s one of the people who might get hurt under his plan to cut safety net programs for the poor and disabled.

Shockey is on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a program to help low-income Americans who are disabled. The monthly payment is just over $700 a month.

“It’s my only income,” Shockey told CNNMoney in the fall, when we first met her in Waverly, a small town in southern Ohio that’s seen better days. “I couldn’t live” without it.

For the full article, go here:



My MS Hero

July 4, 2018

I love this story about Kathleen Sheehan, who has MS and hasn’t let it stand in the way of adapting to a new type of job.  She is also my friend’s sister, which is how I came across this article.  I hope she inspires you too.

Excellent article in the New York Times from last week detailing the significant drop in disability applications and explaining some of the reasons why which include:

  • Baby Boomers move off of the disability program and over to the retirement program;
  • A decrease in unemployment makes employers look towards disabled individuals as prospective employees; and
  • A significant drop in the number of disability claims being paid on appeal due to retraining of judges who were paying “too many” claims.  Now a person’s chance of being approved for benefits after an appeal is around 48% in 2015, down from 69% in 2008.

Read the whole article here:



New Government reports show that the number of cases pending a hearing has dropped to approximately 985,000 as of April 2018 from a high in 2017 of over 1,100,000.  Despite this fall, the average length of time to process a case has fallen only five days (from 605 days to 600 days), meaning that many people are waiting three years or more for a determination on their claims if they proceed to a hearing.   In 2015, the wait time was closer to 480 days, representing almost a four month increase in the wait times.

Although I have personally not seen this implemented in the Jacksonville hearing office, I am encouraged by the Voluntary Standby program which will allow claimants to have their hearings sooner on short notice in an effort to fill empty hearing slots.

Eric Conn Update

June 13, 2018

As you will recall, Eric Conn was involved in massive Social Security fraud scheme in which he paid an ALJ to approve cases. After his indictment, he fled the country but was discovered and brought back to the US.

At this time he may have reached a plea deal for 27 years in prison in exchange for a guilty plea.

The Washington Post looks at this question:


Tucked inside the sweeping $1.3 trillion spending bill passed late last week by Congress was an item that has not been in a budget for nearly a decade: a funding increase for the Social Security Administration, an agency bedeviled by staff shortages that have contributed to a crushing backlog of disability claims stretching past 1 million.

The omnibus appropriations bill increased funding to the federal agency by $480 million, bringing its overall administrative budget to more than $12 billion. Roughly $100 million of the increased allocation will target the disability hearing backlog, in which claimants on average wait around 600 days for a judge to decide whether they will receive benefits including health insurance and a monthly payment.

The funding comes amid a hardening stance across the nation toward recipients of public benefits. Several states, including Kentucky and Arkansas, have moved forward with work requirements for Medicaid recipients, and the Trump administration has called for a dramatic slashing of the social safety net.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the ranking non-Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, and the leading proponent of the funding increase, said he became committed to securing additional money for the understaffed agency after reading an article last year in The Washington Post, which examined the personal cost of waiting for a disability decision and reported that 10,000 people had died waiting during fiscal year 2017.

“I could not believe that 10,000 people died,” he said. “It was beyond belief and unacceptable.”

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