Tuesday, July 20, 2010



Social Security Disability - Stupid is as Stupid Does

When the social security administration came out with HPI, the program intended to "speed things up" at the hearings offices around the country, I knew it would be a failure. Why? So many reasons, but, mainly, the idea of having clerks rotate from one Judge to another each month meant that no one would, ultimately, be responsible for anything. HPI went down in flames and probably made the backlogs worse.

When the social security administration came out with DSI, or Disability Service Improvement, I also knew it would be a failure? Why? The list is very long on that one. But let's start with "replacing reconsideration level examiners with federal reviewing officials who are attorneys". Give me a break. It was typical government thinking. Let's throw out one bureaucracy and bring in another that's possibly more expensive and most likely less efficient, and which basically DOES THE SAME THING. Oh, and let's do that stupid annoying thing that the Microsoft corporation does whenever they bring out a new iteration of their various plagued software, which is to rename everything for no apparent reason.

So, for example, in the new system under DSI, the social security hearing office was no longer called the Office of Hearings and Appeals which was quite logical, but ODAR, the office of disability adjudication and review. Yeah, sure, that change makes a lot of sense. It's so much more descriptive (not) and it rolls off the tongue so much better.

DSI was a failure. It never made it out of its test states (thankfully, they didn't implement beyond the test region) though the awful nomenclature changes did stick).

So, today, I read that SSA is starting a pilot program that will allow the agency to schedule disability hearings for judges instead of the actual hearing offices. This program will supposedly only apply to judges who schedule significantly fewer hearings than their counterparts and peers.

The article I read summed up the basic problem with this, which stuck out like a sore thumb and can be summarized as the inherent difficulties in coordinating schedules for everyone involved in a hearing, such as the judge, the claimant and their disability representative, witnesses, hearing recorders, which hearing site or room to utilize, sending notices, etc.

I don't call an exterminator to fix my AC in the summer. I don't call for a cable repairman to replace the heating element on my dryer. But this is how SSA apparently approaches things.

Stupid is as Stupid Does.




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