Tag: Disability

Feds Overpaid $371.5 Million In Benefits To Disability Recipients

Social Security Administration Overpaid $371.5 Million In Disability Benefits – Washington Free Beacon

.

.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) overpaid individuals a total of $371.5 million in disability benefits from fiscal year 2009 through fiscal 2013, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

These overpayments are cause for concern, as the Social Security’s Disability Insurance Trust Fund is expected to go broke by 2016, according to SSA’s 2015 annual report.

“During a time of growing concern about the solvency of the DI trust fund, it is important for SSA to take every opportunity to help improve the financial status of the program,” the GAO said. The report examined how these concurrent Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) payments affect Disability Insurance (DI) overpayments.

The GAO found that SSA did not detect concurrent FECA payments for about 1,040 individuals during at least one month from July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2014.

To test SSA’s internal controls, GAO randomly selected 20 beneficiaries for review. In all 20 cases, SSA’s controls failed to detect and prevent overpayments. In seven of the cases, SSA did not detect overpayments for more than a decade, and each of these individuals received $100,000 in overpaid benefits.

One of these seven individuals received FECA benefits in the 1980s and was approved for disability benefits 14 years later in 1994. The GAO found that this individual received $200,000 in overpayments for more than 20 years.

The SSA’s “internal controls” rely on beneficiaries to self-report overpayments.

“SSA officials told us that if beneficiaries do not self-report benefits, there are no system prompts that would alert SSA staff to ask beneficiaries if they are receiving any workers’ compensation benefits, including FECA payments,” states GAO. “SSA officials agreed that relying on beneficiaries to self-report benefits presents a challenge in identifying overpayments related to the concurrent receipt of FECA benefits.”

The disability insurance program is the nation’s largest cash assistance program for workers with disabilities. In fiscal year 2014 it paid $142 billion to 11 million beneficiaries.

.

.

Social Security Administration Approved Disability Benefits For Puerto Ricans Because They Can’t Speak English

Feds Consider Puerto Ricans Disabled Because They Speak Spanish – Washington Free Beacon

.

.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) approved disability benefits for hundreds of Puerto Ricans because they do not speak English, despite the fact that Puerto Rico is a predominantly Spanish-speaking territory.

According to a new audit by the Office of Inspector General (OIG), the agency is misapplying rules that are intended to provide financial assistance to individuals who are illiterate or cannot speak English in the United States. Under the rules, Puerto Ricans are allowed to receive disability benefits for their inability to speak English as well.

“We found the Agency did not make exceptions regarding the English-language grid rules for claimants who reside in Puerto Rico, even though Spanish is the predominant language spoken in the local economy,” the OIG said.

The audit said a person applying for disability in Puerto Rico who cannot speak English “may increase his/her likelihood of receiving disability benefits.”

The agency does not currently have a system in place to keep track of the number of beneficiaries who receive disability insurance for not being able to speak English.

However, the OIG was able to identify 218 cases between 2011 and 2013 where Puerto Ricans were awarded disability due to “an inability to communicate in English.” Furthermore, 4 percent of disability hearings in Puerto Rico involved looking at the individual’s ability to speak, read, write, and understand English.

Though 95 percent of Puerto Ricans speak Spanish at home, according to the rules a Spanish-speaking nurse in Puerto Rico would be considered “unskilled,” the OIG said.

The SSA told the OIG that the rules are applied one-size-fits-all.

“SSA managers at various disability decision levels stated Social Security is a national program, and the grids must be applied to the national economy, regardless of local conditions,” the audit said.

The SSA takes into account an individual’s education level when considering awarding disability benefits if they do not qualify for medical reasons. Part of the education requirement involves looking at a person’s ability to speak English, to determine whether it limits his ability to find a job.

Last year Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) raised concerns that the Obama administration was broadly applying the education rule under the Social Security Act to allow individuals to receive disability payments solely because they cannot speak English.

He noted that the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) rolls swelled 230 percent between 2000 and 2010, while the U.S. population only grew 9.7 percent.

Former SSA judges have also testified that individuals have been approved for disability in the United States without having to prove they cannot speak English.

The hundreds of Puerto Ricans noted in the OIG’s report have received disability insurance despite a 1987 U.S. District Court ruling that appears to contradict the SSA’s policy. Benefits were denied on the grounds that “it is the ability to communicate in Spanish, not English, that is vocationally important in Puerto Rico.”

“It should be noted, however, that the court explicitly declined to apply this rationale outside of this one case,” the OIG said.

The SSA agreed with the OIG’s recommendations to figure out how many individuals have been “awarded disability based on their inability to communicate in English,” and to “evaluate the appropriateness” of applying the English-speaking rules to Puerto Rico.

The SSA is currently gathering information for a proposed regulation that “could lead to changes” to the English-speaking rule, the agency said.

“Specifically, we are soliciting public comments and supporting research on how the inability to communicate in English affects an individual’s ability to adjust to other work that exists in the national economy,” the SSA said.

.

.

Statist Disaster Update: Hundreds Of Thousands Of VA Electronic Disability Claims Go Unprocessed

Hundreds Of Thousands Of VA Electronic Disability Claims Not Processed – Nextgov

Hundreds of thousands of disability claims filed with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ eBenefits portal launched in February 2013 are incomplete and could start to expire this month, Nextgov has learned.

.
…………

.
VA Undersecretary for Benefits Allison Hickey touted the new portal in June 2013 as simple as filing taxes online and a way to whittle down the claims backlog.

“Veterans can now file their claims online through eBenefits like they might do their taxes online,” she said, including the documentation needed for a fully developed claim in cooperation with Veterans Service Organizations, or VSOs, such as the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Gerald Manar, deputy director of the National Veterans Service at VFW, told Nextgov the Veterans Benefits Administration on June 26 briefed VSOs on problems with the eBenefits portal, including the fact that only 72,000 claims filed through eBenefits have been completed and approved since last June, with another 228,000 incomplete.

VA spokeswoman Meagan Lutz said since February 2013, just over 445,000 online applications have been initiated. Of those, approximately 70,000 compensation claims have been submitted and another 70,000 nonrating (add a dependent, etc.) have been submitted, leaving a total of 300,000 incomplete claims. Because a number of claims started are more than 365 days old, they have now expired, totaling an estimated 230,000 unprocessed claims.

Manar said he still is trying to understand why so many vets did not complete their online claims and whether they opted to file a paper claim. Lutz said an important element of the electronic claim submission process is the ability for veterans to start a claim online with limited information to hold a date of claim, while simultaneously providing 365 days to collect data, treatment records and other related information.

Lutz said a veteran simply hits “save” and any information provided is saved in temporary tables. During that 365-day period, a veteran may add additional data or upload documents associated with that specific claim. At any point during that timeframe, a veteran can hit the “submit” button and a claim will be automatically established within the Veterans Benefits Management System, designed to entirely automate claims processing by next year, and documents will be uploaded to the veteran’s e-folder.

Claims submitted in eBenefits may be incomplete because “many users can potentially start a claim as part of their exploration of the system… The VA eBenefits team has no way of actually knowing which claims that might be started within eBenefits are valid and or have been abandoned for any number of reasons

After 365 days, Lutz said, the data is made inaccessible and the initiated claim date is removed from the system. The system was designed to provide the veteran as much flexibility as possible in preserving that start date as well as support the Fully Developed Claim initiative, which gives the veteran the opportunity to accrue additional benefits for providing all the data needed to rate the claim.

Lutz said if vets try to submit electronically hundreds of documents, such as PDFs of medical records, “that volume of documents makes electronic submission very difficult, and we always recommend that they work with a Veterans Service Organization, as the VSOs have the expertise to ensure that the right information is gathered and submitted.”

VSOs have little visibility into the claims filed to date through the eBenefits portal because of design problems with the information technology system set up, the Stakeholder Enterprise Portal, Manar said. That portal only allows for broad searches for claims at the state and the VBA regional office level, and limits any search to 1,000 claims. If the search results in more than 1,000 records, SEP returns a message that the system is not available, rather than the search went over the 1,000 file limit, Manar said.

SEP is also not set up to notify VSOs when a claim is filed through eBenefits, nor does it provide alerts when claims are due to expire, Manar said and urged VA to fix SEP to provide such notifications.

SEP, Manar said, was not “well thought-out” when fielded and “the whole system was not ready for prime time.”

Lutz said VA SEP design team is working as quickly as possible to help VSOs to review more than 1,000 files in SEP without getting an incorrect error message.

She said VA plans a new release of SEP this month to VSOs, which will allow VSOs to submit claims directly to VBMS for veterans who hold power of attorney. This update would eliminate the need for the veteran to submit from the eBenefits portal.

“This, we believe, will be a major milestone in the VSO community that will accelerate acceptance of the electronic process,” Lutz said.

.

.

Leftist Scum Update: Project Veritas Busts Wendy Davis Campaigners Mocking Greg Abbott’s Disability (Video)

Project Veritas Busts Wendy Davis Campaigners Mocking Greg Abbott’s Disability – Right Scoop

This morning, James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas released a new video out showing Wendy Davis supporters and organizers mocking her opponent Greg Abbott’s wheelchair.

.

.
This isn’t the first problem Davis has had with Abbott’s paraplegia. She previously remarked that he had never walked a day in her shoes. She also tweeted that he didn’t understand “stories of struggle”.

The folks in the above video are core to her campaign, as outlined by Erick Erickson at Redstate.

Wendy Davis cannot run from Battleground Texas now. The Dallas office of Battleground Texas and Wendy Davis’s Dallas campaign office are common ground with each other. They share resources. Wendy Davis, last week, claimed she out raised Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott by including fundraising totals from Battleground Texas in her numbers.

She and Battleground Texas are the same. And that is according to Wendy Davis’s own campaign.

So first she embellishes her life story, now she and her supporters are diminishing his. Smooth.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

.

Thanks Barack… Disability Trust Fund Runs Record 5 Straight Years Of Deficits

Under Obama: Disability Trust Fund Runs Record 5 Straight Yrs Of Deficits – CNS

In the fourteen fiscal years that preceded President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009, the tax receipts coming into the federal government’s Disability Insurance Trust Fund exceeded the benefits paid out, and the trust fund ran a surplus.

.
……….

In each of the five fiscal years Obama has served as president, the trust fund has run a deficit as the number of people receiving disability benefits has surged. The Disability Insurance Trust Fund has never before run five straight years of deficits.

In fiscal 2013, which ended on Sept. 30, the Disability Insurance Trust Fund ran a record deficit of $31.494 billion, according to newly released data from the Social Security Administration. That followed deficits of $8.462 billion in fiscal 2009, $20,831 billion in fiscal 2010, $25.264 billion in fiscal 2011, and $29.701 billion in fiscal 2012.

From fiscal 1995 through fiscal 2008, the Disability Insurance Trust Fund ran surpluses, as receipts from the disability insurance taxes paid by people who were working exceeded the value of the benefits paid to those claiming disability.

Congress created the federal disability insurance program by adding an amendment to the Social Security Act in 1956. The government paid the first disability benefits in fiscal 1957.

That year, the Social Security and disability programs were funded by payroll taxes that equaled a combined 5.625 percent of a person’s earnings. If someone was employed by someone else, this included a 2.0 percent tax for Social Security that was withheld from a person’s paycheck, an 0.250 percent tax for disability that was also withheld from the paycheck, a 3.0 percent tax for Social Security that was paid by the employer, and an 0.375 percent tax for disability that was paid by the employer.

A self-employed person paid the full 5.625 percent directly from his or her earnings.

Over the years, the payroll taxes for Social Security and disability have more than doubled to 12.4 percent. Self-employed individuals pay the entire 12.4 percent directly. People employed by someone else see 5.3 percent withheld from their paycheck for Social Security and 0.9 percent withheld for disability. Employers pay the other 6.2 percent on the worker’s behalf.

In 1957, the Disability Insurance Trust Fund took in $709 million and paid out only $59 million in benefits – or 8.3 percent of total revenues. A surplus of approximately $649 million was deposited in to the Trust Fund.

In reality, that means the government took that “surplus” and used it to pay for other government expenses, giving the Trust Fund an IOU to pay the money back later.

In the 57 fiscal years that the federal disability program has operated, it has run deficits in only 11 years – with five of those years coming under Obama. Prior to the last five fiscal years, the longest run of deficits in the Disability Insurance Trust Fund was the four-year span from fiscal 1962 trough fiscal 1965, when John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson were president.

The trust fund also ran three straight years of deficits from fiscal 1975 through fiscal 1977, when Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter were president.

When President Obama took office in January 2009 – which was the fourth month of fiscal 2009–there were 7,442,377 workers on disability, according to the Social Security Administration. As of October 2013, there was a record 8,936,932. That means the number of people on disability has increased by 1,494,555 while Obama has been in office – a jump of 20 percent.

In addition to the 8,936,932 workers collecting disability in October, there were also 157,676 spouses of disabled workers who collected additional benefits, and 1,871,127 children of disabled workers who collected benefits.

All told, 10,965,735 people collected federal disability benefits in October.

At the end of fiscal 2008, there was a net balance of $216.239 billion in the Disability Insurance Trust Fund – meaning the Treasury owed $216.239 billion in IOUs to the trust fund for surplus disability insurance tax receipts it had taken in previous years and used for other government expenses.

At the end of fiscal 2013, the net balance in the Disability Insurance Trust Fund had dropped to $100.486 – a decline of $115.753 billion.

That $115.753 billion, the cumulative five year deficit of the disability insurance program, equals the amount of money the Treasury had to borrow from other sources to pay disability benefits during that time.

From the last day of January 2009 through the last day of September 2013, the total debt of the federal government climbed from $10,632,005,246,736.97 to $16,738,183,526,697.32—an increase of $6,106,178,279,960.35.

That equaled approximately $53,091 in additional debt for each of the 115,013,000 households that the Census Bureau now estimates there are in the United States.

Since the last day of September, the federal government’s total debt has continued to increase, hitting $17,200,725,370,597.56 as of Tuesday—or approximately $149,555 per household.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

.

Former Missouri Dem Rep Pleads Guilty To Illegally Taking $58K In Disability Payments

Democratic Officeholder Fraudulently Took $58K In Federal Disability Payments – CNS

Raymond E. Salva, a former Democratic member of the Missouri House of Representatives, has pleaded guilty to illegally taking $58,816 in federal disability payments while he was working as a state legislator earning $30,000 a year, according to the Office of the Inspector General of the Social Security Administration.

.

In a plea agreement reached on June 26, Salva agreed to pay $58,816 in restitution to the Social Security Administration (SSA) but he also still faces sentencing, which could include imprisonment of 10 years without parole and a fine up to $250,000.

When Salva was indicted back in November 2012, the acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri, David Ketchmark, said: “An elected official who is entrusted to make the law must also follow the law. This kind of deceit and illegal double-dipping from the public coffers is nothing less than theft. Today’s indictment alleges that, while purportedly serving the public, he was actually stealing from the taxpayers and betraying the trust of the voters.”

Salva was approved for Social Security disability payments in February 2000, claiming that he had suffered a neck injury in a farm accident. However, in 2002 Salva was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives and he served there as Democratic legislator (District 51) from 2003 through 2010, earning $30,000 a year in compensation. All the while, he received monthly disability payments from the SSA.

In May 2003, about five months after he started working as a state representative, the SSA conducted a review to find out whether Salva was still eligible for disability payments. “As part of that review, Salva completed a form in which he affirmed that he was not able to return to work and that he had not done any work since being disabled,” reads a press release from the SSA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

Nearly two years went by and Salva continued to get the disability payments every month. Then, in December 2004, the SSA discovered earnings posted to Salva’s record and sent him a letter inquiring about his work activity. “Salva responded that he had conferred with an SSA representative, who told him that public service would not affect his disability benefits,” reads the statement from the OIG. “Salva admitted today [June 26,2013] that this statement was false and that he did not confer with an SSA representative who told him that working as a legislator was in some way exempted.”

Salva continued to receive disability payments in 2005, 2006, 2007, and through February 2008. At that point, the SSA sent a letter to Salva notifying him of the over-payments, and then sent another letter billing him for the nearly $59,000 in over-payment. Salva did not leave the Missouri house of Representatives until December 2010.

Salva appealed the SSA’s over-payment claim to an administrative law judge. And on Jan. 3, 2011, he completed a new application for Social Security disability. He subsequently withdrew that application in February 2011. In April of that year the administrative law judge found Salva “at fault in causing the overpayment,” states the OIG release.

In June of this year, Salva entered his plea agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Missouri.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

.

Disability Trust Fund Ran Record $31.2B Deficit In 2012; In Deficit Every Year Under Obama

Disability Trust Fund Ran Record $31.2B Deficit In 2012; In Deficit Every Year Under Obama – CNS

The federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund, which takes in money via a federal payroll tax and pays it out in disability benefits, ran a record $31.2 billion deficit in calendar year 2012, according to the Social Security Administration.

.

That means the trust fund has run a deficit in each of the first four years of the Obama presidency.

For fifteen straight years before Obama took office – from 1994 through 2008 – the Disability Insurance Trust Fund ran a surplus. In 2007, for example, it ran an $11 billion surplus and in 2008 it ran an $889-million surplus.

In 2009, however, the Disability Insurance Trust Fund dipped into the red and has not returned to the black since then. In fact, each year since then the annual deficit has increased.

In 2009, the disability trust fund ran a $12.2 billion deficit; in 2010, it ran a $23.6 billion deficit; in 2011, it ran a $26.1 billion deficit; and in 2012, it ran a $31.2 billion deficit.

These deficits in the Disability Insurance Trust Fund have coincided with a massive run-up in the number of American workers taking federal disability payments.

In January 2009, when President Barack Obama was inaugurated, 7,442,377 workers took disability payments, according to data published by the Social Security Administration. In March 2013, 8,853,614 took disability payments. The 1,411,337 additional workers taking federal disability payments since Obama took office represents an increase of about 19 percent in the number of Americans claiming a disability.

Employed workers pay a 0.9 percent payroll tax for federal disability insurance and their employers pay an additional 0.9 percent. Self-employed workers pay the entire 1.8 percent themselves.

The aggregated revenue from the disability payroll tax is counted by the government as the Disability Insurance Trust Fund. When the value of the disability benefits paid by the government exceeds the value of the disability tax revenue received by the government, the trust fund runs a deficit.

The U.S. Treasury needs to borrow money–and increase the federal debt – to fund disability payments that exceed disability payroll taxes. As of the close of business on Tuesday, the federal debt equaled $16,804,876,955,116.78 – or about $146,090 for each of the 115,031,000 households the Census Bureau now estimates there are in the United States.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

.