House Hearing on Integrity in the Social Security Administration (SSA)
In June, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a two-part hearing on the SSA’s appeals process. The hearings focused specifically on integrity of that process with regard to how the SSA evaluates ALJs with high allowance rates. The Majority’s concern is that some of these high allowance ALJs may be awarding disability benefits to individuals who are not actually disabled, thus costing taxpayers billions of dollars and unnecessarily depleting the Disability Insurance Trust Fund. The Committee explored concerns that the SSA is failing to evaluate these high allowance ALJs appropriately.
Part I of the hearing featured four high allowance administrative law judges (ALJs), and Part II featured Carolyn Colvin, the Acting Commissioner of the SSA.
The combined hearings took some 5+ hours and covered a variety of topics. Among them:
-Allowance rate statistics
-Whether or not the SSA has – or wants – authority to remove high allowance ALJs
-Why and how high allowance ALJs can legitimately reverse award denials issued, usually twice, by state agencies, prior to a case’s arriving before an ALJ
-Whether or not the SSA’s efforts to reduce the case backlog has resulted in a quantity-over-quality situation with regard to the numbers of allowances issued
-Submission of late evidence
-The importance of adequate funding for the SSA in order for it to improve its program integrity procedures and continue to provide the variety of other services that it does
Both the House Majority and the Minority issued reports related to the June integrity hearing. These reports will be discussed in subsequent entries.