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tv   Lawmakers Consider Social Security Disability Benefit Eligibility  CSPAN  September 9, 2017 4:29pm-6:06pm EDT

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join the discussion. monday, 16th anniversary of september 11. live coverage of the live fromes begins new york city for the ceremony at the national september 11 memorial. then on c-sp, live coverage of the september 11 ceremony at the pentagon. live from pennsylvania, the 9/11 commemoration of the flight 93 national memorial. watch it liv c-spanlive with the free radio app. >> next, a hearing on social security. panelists gave recmendations for help to improve and catch up
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with the backlog forhose of drawing -- applyingor benefits. >> the challenges faces, since i have been chairman we have held 18 hearings including today on the disability insurance program. on one topic or another. now that's a lot of hearings. but the disability insurance program is too important for social security not to get it right. americans pay taxes on their hard earned wages for the promise of future social secuty benefits. when the worker retires, and is unable to work unable to disability or dies. these benefits are animportant part of a family's financial security.
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and americans rightfully expect that when they apply for benefits, if they areeligible, that they will receive them ickly. but for those applying for disability benefits, that isn't the case. today over 1million people are waiting for a heing with social security admistrative law judges and on the average these folks will wt around 600 days to get that hearing. that's nearly two years. and that's after waiting almost four months on the average for an initial decision. and more than 3 monthsor a second look. known as reconsideration. while not all of them will qualify for benefits, all of these people deserve an answer in a timely fashion. and for those who don't qualify forbenefits, these long wait times make getting back to work
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even harder. with backlogs at records highs, it's more important tn ever for social security to insure the program is working as intended. the compassionate alliance program was created in 2008 as a way to help those with the most severe impairments jump to the front of line. but, as we will hear today, this program doe't always work the way it should. it's clear social security has serious problems, when it comes to making surep eople get the disability decisions as quickly asossible. but social security problems and the disability insurance proam are more than long wait times. since 2003, social
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security disability programs have been on the gao high sk list. outdated criteria to do determine eligibility for disability benefits. while some progress has been made, there's more work be done to modernize social security's disability program. as we know more money is isn' always the answer. this year the social security administration received $90 million in dedicated funding to adess the disability backlog. yet, wait timescontinue to grow. social security used some of this funding in much needed information technology. improvements. that should pay dividends in the
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long run. the social security administration must find ways to be more efficient and moderne the disability insurance programs. and today we'regoing to hear about how social security plans to do just that. this won't be easy work. and there's plenty to do. social security needs more than just a plan to fix this. it needs real leadership. and that's a large part of of management problem. since 2013, social security has had an active commissioner. in february ranking member lar larson and i, along with our from the human resources subcommittee. sent a letter to president trump asking that he nominate a commissioner without delay. social security needs a senate
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confirmed commissioner who can lead the agency and focus on providingthe service americans expect and deserve. social security provides important benefits that many americans rely on. with the right leadership, and a good plan, social security can get back on the right track. but until then, this subcommittee will keep asking tough questions about how to get this done. the american people deserve nothing less. and i'm sure that my pateriot -- compatriot next to me agrees to that. i will recognize mr. larson. mr. larson: i thank our distinguished chairman and i certainly concur withthat. -- with that. and most importantly, concur in saying your continued leadership to your country and every capacity is greatly respected. and i would say that we are in
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agreement on a number of the problems that social security is set with. as you know mr.chairman, million offense americans rely on social security for basic income. when they retire. or if they are severely disabled and can no longer work. social security is also there to help widows and children who have lost a parent. there is no private plan on the market that can compare to social security. we are living that fact currently. the people at social security deserve credit. in the midst of harvey and the devastation when the people of texas and the greater houston down, ith irma bearing is heartening to know social security has not missed a
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payment, social security has people working with the red cross and of their volunteer agencies. they are there to help make sure america gets america's number one program, the social security program. natural disasters remind us of how important it is to fight back calls to cut social security and come together in a bipartisan way to make common sense adjustments to protect the benefits americans have earned and rely on. the chairman and i have offered plans to address the social security system so americans can continue to count on these benefits whether they become disabled, or die prematurely leaving young children behind. while offering -- while differing in our approaches i
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hope we will be will to have a hearing. i keep looking for a hearing in play no, texas with our distinguished chairman. anywhere in the country where we what have aittoet eones worit will,et e tality of ideas come forward. we share the same goals. we have a different path of getting there. onay's hearing is focused record high delays in processing disability applications. this is simply unacceptable. core oforable at its what every day average citizens in this country have to endure. more than 600 days? it is unconscionable. since 2010 the number of beneficiaries have grown by 13%
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as baby boomers reach retirement age and as we saw after the great recession, number of people who lost jobs and are scrambling for positions. the social security operating after has fallen by 10% accounting for inflation. difficult if it not impossible for social security to serve our constituents properly when they need help the most. that is where i think money does matter. money in these budgets, so we can get the front-line people who can handle this. we've had many discussions about technology. have been technological advances but not on the scale that we need. nothing on a scale that will assist us in a way that case worker can who can deal with an
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individual personally, like these people are currently enduring in houston. there are delays throughout the social security administration. today's hearing is focused on this. the administrative law judge who can decide on disability benefits. these hearings are important for the first time an applicant gets to meet face-to-face, these hearings are the first time the social security administrator has complete medical evidence in hand and they can seek help from an attorney or professional, which is important if and how complex the law is in this area. is 600 days.ight i have several constituents in my district.
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i'm so glad we are going to get to hear from her. when you find people are committing suicide, in many .ases they lose their homes when you look at what happens to them mentally. people that have served in the armed services, with ptsd, who find their greatest stress becomes dealing with the social security system that is there to help them. it is unconscionable that this goes on. we have to solve this problem on behalf of the citizens we are sworn to serve by correcting and making sure america's primary insurance program for its citizens is there to provide them relief on a timely basis. i say insurance program because that is what it is.
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citizens have contributed to this program. they deserve the best as the chairman underscored in his remarks. i'm looking forward to the testimony today. >> thank you. any member is welcome to submit a statement for the hearing record. before we move on i want to remind our witnesses to please limit your oral statements to five minutes. objection, all the written testimony will be made part of the hearing record. we have five witnesses today. the acting chief of staff, social security administration. laron, income security issues, government accountability office. that is a mouthful. chief.th, bureau
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on behalf of national council of disability determination directors. administrativef law judges. and lisa, director of government affairs, national organization of social security. consortium fore citizens with disabilities task force. welcome. thank you for being here. please proceed. >> thank you. chairman johnson. ranking member lawson. i'm the acting chief of staff of the social security administration. >> is your microphone on? >> yes. begin, ourre i thoughts are with those affected
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by the devastation in texas and louisiana by hurricane harvey. we know chairman brady's district is especially affected and they are providing disaster relief services. closed,e offices were we were on-site with fema over the weekend in three sites in texas and louisiana. they could request immediate payment in person if they did not receive regular payment. we will continue to be on-site in three locations. all but two of our field offices in texas have opened again. thank you for inviting me to discuss how we are taking a systematic approach. we're appreciate the subcommittee for its oversight of the disability programs in
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your recommendations. with 50 years of experience at social security we are committed to serving the public effectively and compassionately. to preserving the integrity of the social security programs. focused, mission driven. definesal security act disability as the inability to engage in gainful activity due to a physical or mental impairment that will last at least one year or result in death. while this provides a statutory foundation of our social ,ecurity disability insurance our management of the program is informed by both technology and policy advances. the changes in health care delivery require us to rethink our use of medical information and its consistency. the policy updates and revisions
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we have made established the foundation for a systematic approach to disability decision-making. we have revised most of our listings of impairment criteria after we finish the updates. we will update the listings using a 3-5 year update cycle. we have the expertise in place to meet this objective. we are developing an information system that will be the primary source of occupational information used in disability adjudication. we are committed to providing and quality policy research had been working with the bureau of labor statistics collecting data since 2015. system to implement this in 2020 with the introduction of a vocational information tool. developed our6 we
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plan to improve hearing were close -- work loads. we greatly appreciate the 90 million in funding that congress has provided. the plan will permit us to enhance our business efficiencies and allow us to increase our adjudicative capacity by hiring additional decision riders and other support staff. the plan supports technological investments such as using natural language processing to improve the quality of our decisions. the quality of our decisions to us.en paramount we are established the office of analytics review and oversight which will improve coordination on the disability you judy occasion process. this centralizes all agency offices that analyze data and conducts quality reviews of our hearings process.
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we appreciate work in assessing our comparison and allowances program delivering faster services making decisions quickly to eligible individuals with the most serious disabilities. we're working to incorporate their recommendations to strengthen the program. we've updated our website to be more transparent and include useful information to submit. it will be the focus of our national disability form. we are enhancing our internal processes as well to develop conditions including enhancements that would give us more flexibility for the program. thank you for your interest in discussing disability with us. we serve the most vulnerable
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segment of our society. we will continue to be mission driven, mission focused as we serve millions of individuals who need our help. we look forward to continuing to work with you. >> thank you. >> chairman johnson. i'm pleased to be here today to discuss the report on the social security administration -- allowance initiative. expedites thee processing of disability claims for those with certain conditions. it could otherwise take months. it has been effective in fast questions have been raised on how the initiative has been implemented. my remarks will focus on three issues. how is this a identifies
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conditions for inclusion on the list, how claims are designated for expedited processing, and how they ensure the accuracy and consistency of decisions. on identifying conditions for inclusion on the cow list. lacks -- the number of conditions included has grown from 50 to 228. some conditions were added to the additional list following public hearings. has relied on advocates to bring condition to its attention. they have not provided guidance on its webpage on how to make suggestions, has not consistently communicated with .hose who suggested additions
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and has not conducted outreach to help ensure all advocates are aware of initiatives. clear orot have consistent criteria that he to determine whether to designate a condition as cal. they may be overlooking conditions appropriate for inclusion. conditions are designated as cal. fsa relies on selection software that uses a word search of the impairment description to determine whether the claim refers to a cal condition. when it is ambiguous or inaccurate the software won't catch the condition. for example, the software accurately flagged stage four lung cancer as advanced stage lung cancer but did not like a
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claim were the claimant described their condition as lung cancer terminal. this has the opportunity to correctlyims are designated as cal by manually changing a flag. staff varied on whether they add over move cal status. fsa does not have clear guidance on when to change cal designations and some examiners didn't understand the importance of making such changes. in 2016, half of disability offices did not manually add more than a single cal designation to a claim. found fsa uses detailed conditions known as impairment summaries as a key tool to ensure accurate claims decisions.
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these summaries are not regularly updated. a third of cow impairment server is our more than a year old. medical experts suggested given advances in medical research summary should be updated every 1-3 years. while fsa collect state debt on , they like denial rates don't levera this data to inform improvements in the accuracy and consistency of claim decisions. in conclusion, cal is viewed positively and appears to be effectively expediting the process is saying with its designation. however, weaknesses have led to unintended consequences. absent improvements in how they identify cal conditions, designate cal claims, and ensure isuracy and consistency, fsa
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missing an opportunity. this concludes my prepared statement. i'm happy to answer any questions you may have. >> thank you. welcome. thank you for being here. >> chairman johnson. members of the subcommittee. thank you for the opportunity to testify. collectively we direct the work of 16,000 employees, processing 4.7 million disability cases a year. i'm here to provide you with on the ground perspective of the dds community. in c triple the recommends consistent policy application across the nation.
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we support the reinstatement of the reconsideration step, the first denial. introduced in 10 states the prototype pilot removes the reconsideration appeal level. the first level of appeal is a hearing with an administrative law judge. the president's 2018 budget includes the proposal to reinstate reconsideration. we believe reinstatement would help alleviate the backlog. it would give those states the same opportunity to get benefits sooner at last -- less cost. in today, we make this recommendation with the caveat sufficient funding and additional resources must be operationsr dds related to staffing, funding and
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infrastructure. is -- iple day in fiscal year 2016 the dds process over 16,000 cal only cases, and 62,000 cal and q dd designated cases. these numbers were permit doesn't present a small numbers of claims the dds will claim and process. we believe it should continue to be supported but with some improvement. cow is usefulat in prioritizing cases that have favorable termination. but software has room for improvement. it sometimes misidentifies cases as cal. we suggest refinements to the software to correct this issue and propose they continuously
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update the condition list. we are concerned about eliminating the use of the atability examiner authority the end of fiscal year 18 as required by the bipartisan budget at -- act. this allows the divisive -- disability examiner to make determinations in certain cases without the approval of a medical consultant. authority to seize and adjudicators who can work independently. we believe the loss of this disability authority will have detrimental impact on operations and service to those applicants most in need. we support the recommends the development of a new occupational information system titlesace the outdated and his companion volumes. and a large percentage of cases
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disability requires assessment of an applicant ability to perform their past work. the 1991 edition is a tool this is a- foundational piece of the disability determination process. working on a solution but the completion date is still years away. the lengthy timeline is ddsouraging to the community. we have to work through complex issues that are not aligned with the framework of determining disability. we advocate for haste in the development of a new tool. i would like to thank our
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partners for their collaboration and commend the dds staff for their explained murray work -- exemplary work. >> thank you. welcome. thanks for being here. you may proceed. >> thank you. ranking member larsen. members of the subcommittee. thank you for this opportunity to address you who have the stewardship of this program in your hands. i'm a united states administrative law judge for 23 years. the alj represents 14 hundred administrative law judges located in 166 offices across the country. i am speaking on behalf of my judicial colleagues.
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judges have been doing triage work in hearing rooms across the country without adequate time, resources or staff. we urge congress to draft legislation to each of you has heard stories from your constituents, just as we judge your stories in our courtrooms of the hardship that winning two years for a hearing and decision takes on those who appear in court. -- before us.
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>> i will briefly discuss each of these. since 2011, the agency has imposed an estimated 1000 changes to its policies and procedures. of them are unnecessary and simply add to the time it takes. we have proposed a number of solutions to make the moreicatory process efficient favorite more effective. is implemented as save half million work hours per year. an expedited dismissal process that has the potential to conserve dutch 4000 hours annually. this procedure for those who appear before us -- properly address the regulations, elimination of the 10 regional
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offices for a, redeployment of their 400 staff to the hearings operation. the american people are entitled push ancontinues to initiative that would disable all statutory protections to ensure that federal agencies cannot improperly influenced their adjudicators. this is not a new initiative. the agency proposed this last year. under pressure from congress that backed away from the proposal. nevertheless, the agency has announced this land. there should be a chart of hearing on your tv screen which highlights the differences
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between aljs and the attorney examiners. you can see that aljs have judicial independence and house attorneys do not. they are controlled by the agency. if you control the people who make their decisions, you can control those decisions. the probation proposal for newly hired aljs, which an argument for traditional performance plan attempt toell-worn eliminate statutory protections for the american. bes idea should unequivocally rejected. we americans deserve an independent judiciary. are hurt without adequate support staff. this has eroded our clerical and attorney writing staff. agency management has stripped
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dutch -- or of their assigned clerical -- in order to be efficient, it does need to work with the same staff. it's just needs one clerical staff member and two attorneys assigned to us to work directly with us. desperatelyity -- needed income. its claim paid has an approximate value. judges need to evaluate each case. we need sufficient time to do this job. quota, demanding judges dispose of 500-evan hundred cases a newly was created by dividing the number of having cases. this was divided by the number of cases several years ago. this means justices have an
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average of 2.5 hours to fully adjudicated case. the entirereview file of hundreds of medical documents, sometimes thousands, holding a hearing at which the ,xpert witnesses are questions having instructions before a decision, and editing decision. 2.5 hours. judges who take the time to follow the rules, regulations command offices. >> came determining quick, your time is up. >> oh, i'm sorry. thank you for your attention. >> thank you. hard -- to quit as a judge. >> good morning. thank youohnson -- for the opportunity to testify at this hearing. i am the director of government affairs for the national
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organization of representative/i am here today on the -- behalf of the cochairs of the security task force on disabilities -- or ccd. the social security disability program provides session modest but vital benefits to many people with disabilities so severe that are able to perform substantial work, many who live in abject poverty or would homeless without them. it took an average of 628 days for people to receive ineligibility -- or to get access to these vital benefits. was due in large part to chronic underfunding of the social security dutch administrative budget since 2010. prior to 2000 10, congress invests resources in ssa, may have run their way to time down. can do onown would it it is given adequate resources.
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there can be devastating consequences for his or her some declare bankruptcy and some even die. this person was arrested in texas -- she let a comfortable life, while working as a property manager and inspector. she developed a number of conditions, including chronic -- chronic pain syndrome, migraine, headaches, injured cranial everension, and -- increasing depression and things id, especially after she could no longer work. she tried every treatment to reduce her pain and allow her to continue working, but by 2009, she could not work anymore. for hered a long time hearing, scheduled in january 2016, but missed appointment for test that might identify something that could alleviate
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her pain that took months to schedule. she rescheduled for april 2 thousand 16, but unfortunately she committed suicide several weeks before her hearing. she was 45 years old and received a fully favorable decision. her 15 euros on now receives the benefits. my written testimony contains many other stories collected from representatives from all over the united states that hard -- highlight the pain inflicted on individuals with disabilities were forced to wait months or years to take up the claim. stories of coming more commonplace. died waiting for hearing for lj. it's nearly one every hour. the social security task force congress should provide us with adequate funding to
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administer -- this. only sustained adequate funding will allow them to reduce the time it takes to get us here without negatively impacting customer service at its core function. the task force appreciates the efforts that they are making within the inadequate budget it receives. done to assist the nearly 1.1 million people facing us. as they should work to ensure that a hearing is only held when necessary, as first, they should do a better job of collecting full medical evidence for the initial application and reconsideration level to ensure the decision is made on its complete and evidentiary record as possible. second, ssas should resume a robust program of reviewing claims for on-the-record discussion, cases where recent evidence clearly shows eligibility without requiring a hearing. i understand that it is part of
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the care plan, but the attorneys who would conduct reviews are not doing them because they have been pulled into addressing another horrible backlog, and that's the writing of decisions after a hearing is held. this is yet another example of the consequences of inadequate funding and trying to shift things around to make it work within the budget that they have. third, congress can assist to get the decision right the first time by facilitating reviews of more dds denials, to ensure that these decisions are correct and prevent the need for an appeal. ssa should be prermted to use its dedicated program integrity fund to conduct these reviews and they should increase the number of reviews. finally, ssa should consider revising recently
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finalized regulations the task force believes will harm applicants otherwise eligible for benefits and lead to increased appeals including the federal court. this -- the controversial -- one controversial rule regards evaluation of medical evidence. the relationship between a person and their treating provider is unique and opinions of treating providers deserve more weight than the opinion of someone who examines an individual once or reviews the claims file. the elimination of the treating physician's rule is likely to lead to more appeals, more remands and more delays as a result. thank you again for the opportunity to testify today and i'm happy to answer any questions you might have. >> thank all of you. as is customary for each round of questions i will limit my time to five minutes and ask my colleagues also to limit their questioning time to five minutes as well. as i said in my opening remarks, waiting almost two years to get a hearing decision is too long. today you've shown us social security's plan to get people hearings on time, but under that plan people still aren't going to get a timely
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decision until at least 2022. why is this plan taking so long? turn on your mike. thank you, chairman. let me first say, being with the social security administration for over 50 years and starting as an interviewer of disability applications, i share the concern as do my colleagues with the long wait for hearings as well as other issues that have been identified by the witnesses here. to listen and read the stories that were presented about people being deceased before a hearing took place is unacceptable to all of us. however, we have to put everything on the table when we look at the hearings process. we have to look at all aspects of it. it is not just the hiring of human resources. it is being strategic. otherwise you'll have what happened before. we had an aggressive plan before. we reduced the hearings backlog.
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what happened was baby boomers came of age and they became disability prone. the recession hit. the increased receipts were upon us, and basically we had no updated our business processes or had the i.t. technology to really modernize where we're going. so why does the plan take so long? we have to look at all aspects of it in addition to making sure that we have sufficient staffing, and i am pleased to say that this year we are hiring 130 aljs to the 200 and some odd that we hired last year. we're also hiring over 600 in support staff. unfortunately, we hired more aljs and didn't have the comparable support staff because the agency had put a self-imposed freeze on itself. so we were able to hire one
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aspect, but it makes sense if you are hiring more judges you need decision writers and you need the support staff to work with them. so our commitment is to bring about over 600 on before the end of the year, and that's with the help of the anomaly money. it takes a long time to deal with systemic problems, but i want to ensure you for the acting commissioner and myself all options are on the table. we are looking at all recommendations. matter of fact, judge zahn and i have met a couple of times and i have looked at her 45 policy decisions, recommendations that she has made, and one of them which is a short form or template for the fully favorable is something that the agency is looking right now to move forward and get agreement on a direction. so we ask you to work with us. your committee has come up with great ideas and we appreciate your support for social security all of these years.
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>> yeah, you've been working with us -- we've been working with you for the whole time i've been in the congress and i haven't seen much improvement. it wasn't that long ago social security was facing a different disability backlog and telling our subcommittee how that backlog was going to be tackled. that was in the past. yet less than ten years later here we are again with another disability backlog. i don't know that your new plan is going to stop that cycle. how can you assure us that in ten years we're not still talking about another disability backlog? well, my hopes, chairman, is based on being strategic and looking at all aspects of it, that we're able to minimize the cycle. now, we can't help what
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happens externally, whether you have another recession and more filings or whether you have the issue -- for example, there was a period of time where we couldn't hire administrative law judges because of the office of personnel management, and, thankfully, congress helped us to correct a lot of that situation. but if we don't have a plan that's strategic and deals with the core of our problems, just giving us the budget won't stem the cycle you have just spoken. for example, when i looked at the actuary projections of the disability, they're going down now. that's good news for us because it allows us to work on the backlog. by the way, the cases are averaging over 600 a day, and we're working on the most cases now and that means the processing time goes up. but having said that and working on the cycle that we're doing, we need to make sure that we have fixes that prevent or minimize these things in the workloads, and that's where we're all working very together. thank you, ma'am. mr. washington, you are recognized. >> well, i share the chairman's concern. 600 days is just flatout unacceptable. we're the united states of america. these
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are our fellow citizens. this is a program that they've paid for. so i've heard a lot of discussion today, so i'm going to ask everybody, you know, we cite the figure that there's been a 13% increase of baby boomers coming through the thing, but a 10% decrease. if you got a 10% increase, could you turn this around and what would that time frame then be? >> i would have to look at the particular statistics -- >> okay. that's not an answer. i want to give you an answer. let me just say for every 100 million that is given in our budget -- first we want the president's budget because the president's budget submits a plan for us to balance the workload. for every extra 100 million -- i'll give you two
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examples. we can do another 100,000 of disability applications or another 50,000 of hearing decisions. so i would take your -- >> why does it take so long, ms. mclaren? you said there's a number of recommendations that don't seed to be followed. what would you say in this case, would the additional money help or not? >> i think what gao's work speaks to is using the resources they currently have efficiently and effectively as they can. we found several cases where we don't believe they are. >> what can the government then do? what is gao going to recommend? >> we have several recommendations on how they can better use the information that they have. the administrative data they're already collecting to inform how they can make quicker decisions, more accurate decisions and more consistent decisions. will that result in a savings of money and time and effort? >> well, it certainly would save in time and effort if they were more efficient and more effective at making their decisions. >> ms. mclaren, what would you say about adecisional resources?
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you very definitely indicated that in your remark cincinnati. ddss are always in need of more resources as well. you know, the work we do in the dds is similar to what they faced in the alj courts. the disability examiners are stretched thin because we have hiring issues as well there. if we had more adequate resources to take the time that's they to perform the reviews there might be an impact. and we also -- back to the statement -- >> see, that's a troubling thing. we say and my colleagues over here will say, look, more money is not the answer. we just say to you, look, we recognize you are down. if we give you more money and you can't give us an answer, and so it is very disturbing to people that want to help and see the citizens
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helped. we hear ms. ekman talking about -- putting a real face on this. then we go around and around and around without the ability seemingly to help. judge, i mean you -- give me a clerk and two attorneys, give my judges a clerk and two attorneys, we can go to town. we will be able to turn out a lot more decisions, what does that mean, a lot more decisions? we got a 600 -- you know, this backlog. what does it exactly mean? >> i would say that judges if given proper staffing could probably add another 50 to 100 hearing per judge -- and we have 1600 judges -- per year, if you gave us staffing and if you changed the procedures that are road blocks. >> change the procedures, what is the number? do you reduce it or just add more judges, more staff. >> no, no, no. we definitely can reduce the backlog. >> to what? give me a minute. let me figure
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it out. that's the problem. ms. eckman, explain again what people are actually going through and how incompetent in the face of that we all seem. thank you, mr. larson. people are losing their homes, they're dying and they are becoming bankrupt while they wait for a decision. i think, mr. larson, when you chronically underfund an agency you can't expect a small increase in funding in the short term to fix the problem. you need adequate funding, sustained over a long period in order for ssa to get itself out of the hole that congress has dug for them by giving them inadequate resources. you can't fix your problems by shifting money from one place to another without expecting all of the service that ssa provides to america to suffer. unfortunately, it is going to take a number of years even if you were to give significantly increased funding for ssa to be able to digit self out itself
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out of the hole they've been put in by inadequate funding over the past seven years. it sounds like they could make changes recommend by the gao as well. i would be interested in finding out why it is that gao can't get together with your group and come up with a comprehensive solution to this that congress can get its hands around instead of this endless debate we seem to have and nothing gets done. i appreciate your questions. thank you. i appreciate your questions, and i totally agree with what the chairman said. i hope y'all are listening to his question, and some of the answers that we're getting are, you know, nebulous, fruitless,
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something. you're recognized. thank you, mr. chairman. i'm looking at this chart of disability by wait times, starts in 1986 and in 2016, 30 years, and the trend doesn't look very favorable. it is apparent it is not a new problem. this is something that's been evolving over 30 years. i also see that there are peaks and then there are valley also. what i want to
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know is what is the trend. is this getting better or is it worse? ms. desmond. >> the trend is getting better over the last seven months. we have reduced the pending. we are working on the aged cases. we have a number of initiatives that we started unfortunately because of the decision writing backlog we had to stop, but with the hiring that we're going to do there's some incredibly promising initiatives. we have to deal with --
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i want to know about the trend in claims. i know we had a huge upswing in claims. people talk about the baby boomers aging and the -- and the recession which forced people to look for alternative sources of income. so the claims are down 600,000 in the last year, is that right? what we were talking about, i can give you a figure of what they're down. the actuary shows they're down by about 100,000 from the prior year and 100,000 before that. what are the total number of claims per year? somebody said 4 million, is that right? >> well, the total number of claims per year that we're dealing with, i need to get back to you on that figure. >> roughly. judge zahm, do you know the total number of claims per year? >> no. show less text no. >> okay. do you know, ms. mclaren? yes, 4.7 million, but that includes all initial recon and cdr claims. >> so we have 100,000 drop out
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of 4 million. what percentage of claims -- the whole reason we have to have hearings is to make sure people are eligible, right? >> if they knew -- they came in tofs and i'm disabled and we could believe they met the qualifications we wouldn't have to have the hearings, right? what percentage of hearing applicants, judge zahm, are approved versus rejected? at the hearings level it is approximately 45% of applicants are approved. >> and ultimately on appeals and on through, do you know the answer to that? >> no. probably not a whole heck of a lot different. >> mrs. eckman? overall after all levels of appeal it is about four in ten that get approved. initial claims, one in three are
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approved. two out of three are denied at the initial level. she said 45%, you're saying one in three. >> at the initial level, and it is 45% at the hearings level. so once you go through all of the levels of appeal -- you have to remember, too, a lot of people drop out so the number of initial claims only -- only a percentage of those go forward to request hearings. >> the kal program, i'll go to you, mrs. desmond. do we have -- i know it is expedited. so how much quicker is it than the regular program? how many more -- what's the difference in wait times? show less text >> it is substantial. if you look at kal conditions -- >> is it 200 days? >> 39 days for a kal condition. >> wow. >> as opposed to the average processing time for initial application is somewhere between 110 and 114 days. >> well, what percentage of people get approved in the kal program? >> around 3%. >> 3, so 97% are in the other? >> right, that's correct. >> okay. and then the other -- finally, is there any mechanism even quicker than kal? i mean
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when you -- when they meet with somebody and there's no question, they are clearly disabled -- i mean is there anybody that gets instantaneous approved? there's not instantaneous but there are two processes. one is a terry case where an individual has a disability which is likely to end in death and very seriously, and it is indicated as a terry. the other is quick disability decisions. these are all implemented in the beginning of the up rise of disability pendings over the years. so if it is not a kal, it can be picked up as a quick decision case, it can be picked up as a terry. they all work with each other. >> thank you, ma'am. >> mr. pasquarelli be
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recognized. >> mr. chairman, thank you. i'm interested in all of the questions and the comments. excellent. maybe we should do this with social security, same approach, questions and answers. [laughter] questions and answers. i have a question for you, ms. desmond. and thank you for all of your service, i mean that sincerely. we know that many initial ssdi applications are denied. ms. desmond, let me ask you this, can you explain to me why that is and is there anything we can do to try to reduce the inappropriate denials? >> well, thank you, first of all. i just want to reminisce about you and i appearing together in new jersey on the radio when i was -- >> we have the worst record in new jersey.
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yes, those were jeering my years as commissioner. >> i won't even talk about that. no inference to you, but i'm saying new jersey is way behind everybody else it looks like, even though no state really stands out as -- gets a gold star. go ahead. sorry i interrupted you. if you look at the initial >>if you look at the initial disability application, quality function of social security where we looked at these initial disability applications. they are if you look at their accuracy, their net accuracy is at 97%. their decisional accuracy is about 95%. what happens between the time of the initial denial, time passes, the condition worsens. there's often new medical evidence that's introduced that wasn't introduced at the beginning. so where the ddss on average have about 35% allowance rate, you will see as we go through the various stages -- for example, at the reconsideration stage when new evidence is submitted , and the condition may change a little, another 12% get approved. then you have, as
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judge zahn mentioned, you know, at the hearing level about 45%. so it doesn't mean that the dds's initial decision was incorrect, because they do look at 50% of the allowances, and there's a sample of denials as well. to see the quality of that -- >> let's compare that to other agencies and other departments when we see problems of responding to our taxpayers and constituents and our family. i've seen a tendency in some of the other departments and agencies that remain nameless right now, if they're cutting my budget so i cannot spend x amount of dollars, on page 38 of the budget you referred to -- i didn't refer to, you referred to -- there is a $64 billion cut in social security disability funds over the next ten years.
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now, if i'm the bureaucrat, administrator, call us whatever you wish, making decisions about, well, if i have less benefit money to provide i need to find a way to get rid of a lot of these applicants. because there may be less applicants this year, but there is a steady pace of increasing -- if you look back at it over the last 15 years. by the way, if we continue with the last six months we'll have the same amount as last year. i'll tell you the numbers and you know the , numbers better than i do. so i am saying, is there anything like that happening within the disability network, of denying and let them appeal down the road? >> i would say -- >> is that familiar to you, ms. desmond? desmond i would say
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: absolutely not. i will tell you that our employees -- i do want to talk about what is in the budget. >> our employees believe in the mission, that's to get the right decision to the right person on time. i was trained that way when i came in over 50 years ago. >> so we have less money over , the next ten years according to the president's budget, which you talked about. we will find a way, if those people are eligible, to get them the assistance that they need? miss desmond: absolutely. >> okay. let me continue, please. so there's no easy fixes, we know that. making a proper ssdi eligibility determination is extremely complex. i feel like i'm starting to sound like a broken record though lately because i keep coming back to the same point of virtually all of the social security subcommittee hearings we've had since i joined the subcommittee. but many of the problems that this subcommittee has been examining with the social security administration are
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firmly rooted, i will contend, in the lack of resources the agency has been given. look, we don't want anybody to get social security disability that doesn't deserve it. you've changed the rules, and some of them i think are excellent. so that we don't have to face that issue later on. so we're going to find a way, to find the rules to have less people that are eligible because you have less fund to provide. i mean the numbers are the numbers! i didn't make them up and i don't think you made them up, ms. desmond. i know your background. so you could defend it all you want, but we're trying to get some some kind of agreement here so that we can move forward. not everything is, you know, in stark white and black, and you know that. there are no easy answers, this is complex stuff. but i'm looking at the history, i'm looking at what's going to
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happen by the end of this year, and i don't see any improvement whatsoever. to go back to the gentleman's question before. so, you know, wonder why some of us are a little puzzled. i mean i'm always a little puzzled, but this is something that we need to take a much more serious look at. thank the chairman for putting us together today. show >> thank you, sir. the gentleman's time has expired. you're recognized, sir. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank ranking member larson for both of you putting this together. i want to thank the witnesses, and i am going to go back to what my friend mr. larson said because it is always easy to talk about money. he said over here we're going to talk about money and you're right because i was in business and in my 30 years in business when we were having troubles, people would walk up and say, well, we just need more money. it is always easy to say, yeah, we need more money, given me more money, and keep giving me more money. the problem is here
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we don't have anymore money. in washington every day we're borrowing from china. we have enough issues and we don't have the money and that's what we have to be more efficient. i would like to talk about efficiency more than money and , figure out how to become more efficient. there's no more money. we could talk about it all day but the american people are tired of talking about money when we have a $20 trillion deficit that continues to grow. i want to talk about one example because the trend line, i do like my friend's example of the trend -- the trend is not good. i put the black line as the trend line. we can go up and down and up and down but the trend is continually going up. that's an issue. it is troubling , i will use one example. we have a constituent, john, who is from ohio. he applied for disability in 2015 and who my office is still working on to get him a final decision. for john, this has been a frustrating process for
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him and his family. this is simply unacceptable. unfortunately, i have many other constituents facing the same circumstances. february of 2015. what we did was we went out and started talking to some of the judges in our area to try to figure out what is going on. our social security, when we talk to our judges and my staff talked to them in northeast ohio, they've told us that the rules -- i'm going back. social security recently finalized regulation goes that generally requires all evidence submitted to llj no later than five days before a hearing. the judges are saying they told us the rule fail also to fully address the issue of ensuring that them as judges have all of the , information that they need prior to the hearing! that's important in a timeline. that's important in a decision. i think it is important that we look at at least that. so basically the rule is not working. i want to ask judge zahm, what
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are your thoughts on that? the judges are saying they need the information. >> yes, the judges who spoke with you and your staff are 100% correct. this is the situation. judges are most efficient when we have evidence submitted to us before the hearing so that the judge and the medical experts can review that eviden and be prepared for the questioni of the claimant at the hearing and for the questioning of the experts. then when the testimony is over we can make a decision right away, right there. staff, it is efficient and fast. but what has happened is that the agency had a ten-year pilot program in new england that required evidence to be submitted five days in advance. by all accounts it worked well. so the agency decided to extend it nationwide so far, so good. then the rule
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was drafted, and the rule didn't require just the submission of evidence, it also said, and if you don't have the evidence you can just tell us what evidence is missing and your attempts to get it. so now five days before the hearing, i still don't have the evidence. what's worse is they've told me what evidence i don't have, and it is too late to get it. so the intent of the rule was undermined by poorly being drafted. we need a rule that says, five days before the hearing get your evidence in. people get 75 days notice before the hearing, so they have plenty of time. and if they can't get it because sometimes providers are recalcitrant, let me know, i will subpoena it. i need the evidence the day of the hearing so i can be efficient. >> i appreciate that. again, that doesn't take more money,
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that just takes more efficiency. >> exactly. >> ms. desmond, do you want -- miss desmond yes. certainly, we : -- the national uniformity rule was intended to do as you articulated. it was intended -- it was taking 72 days on average for the schedule of the hearing, so this was giving 75 days for the reps to present the evidence. unfortunately, we've had a few reps informing before five days, and these sources are medical. so what we are in the midst of doing now is doing a clarifying , ruling to deal with those situations. we will also have our quality -- new office of quality and review and oversight do a study of these cases. it went into effect the beginning of may. we wanted to do some data analysis to see where it is. at the same time the ruling that we'll have will layout factors of what does it mean when you're coming in front of us, what do you need to provide. the one thing we don't want to do is prevent due process on behalf of our claimants. we want to make sure they're afforded
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the best while we're more efficient and what we do. >> thank you. i know i ran out of time, but, again, this isn't more money. this is just procedure and time and getting things done and getting things to the judges. i yield back. >> mr. kelly, you're recognized. >> thank you, chairman. thank you all for being here. always we listened to this -- again, it comes down, as it was talked about, is the amount of money we have to work with and then the size of the social security administration. so when we talk about not having enough people, at a hearing you talked, judge, i have never seen this, how did we figure out we needed to hire more judges, but they did not figure out they needed to have more support staff? how do those decisions come about? as a person that's always been in the private sector, it is hard for me to understand that money is the answer to this, as it was just said. it is efficiency that really drives us most of the time because we just don't have in the private sector , large sums of money to work
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with. so i was really puzzled. we said, yeah, we need more judges but nobody thinks that they need more support staff? that is almost incomprehensible, but that's the issue that you're talking about? >> yes. and to the extent that you give me know support staff i cannot be efficient. >> okay. i got to tell you, what we face as members of congress in our offices we have people , coming to us with this problem. a very difficult system to navigate. let me read something to you because we're talking about efficiency and effectiveness and talking about making sure we don't have unapplied time, because that's what drives everybody's model off the charts. disability insurance statistic for my congressional district in western pennsylvania, i noticed that the average processing time is much higher than the national average. is that theding average processing time is 698 days. the national average is 599. both are lengthy but it takes almost two years for a claim to be processed with
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almost 8200 cases pending in pittsburgh alone. an incredible mountain we have to climb. that's thousands of western pennsylvanians with their lives on hold for almost two years while their claim is , being processed. now, a constituent brought this up to me. meanwhile, i just read a report by the social security office that in finance year 2016 the agency spent over $16 , million on union representational activities. in fact, 16 employees spent 100% of their time solely on union activities! in addition to these 16 employees almost another 1500 , used official time on a part-time basis for a total of 255,000 official hours spent on union activities! i have an extremely hard time explaining to my constituents that our office dealing with their disability claims, and
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that taxpayer dollars are spent on union activities while they're waiting for a decision from a federal agency. of course, it is not just an issue at the social security administration. in 2014 government employee spent nearly 3.5 million hours conducting union business, costing taxpayers, hard working american taxpayers, 162.5 that's not my million dollars, number, that's opm. so we're saying we don't have enough people and they don't have enough time, how do we find 255,000 hours to spend on a union activity when we have people waiting to hear their claim being processed? i know people say, well, you don't want to go down that road. i do want to go down that road because you know who picks up the tab on this? hard working american taxpayers. they're asking us, how can you look the other way when this is going on when we have people waiting over two years for a claim to be processed? this is not your problem. this is the problem with government. miss desmond what's the average
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, time it takes a federal employee to process a disability claim nationally? just a ballpark average? >> i was going to give you an example of a decision writer -- >> just give me a ballpark figure, how much time does it take? >> one decision writer can write in a year 220 decisions. with the multiply that work you're talking about, you have a sense of what can be done in writing decisions. employees who are dedicated to union negativities, they could of been working on disability claims, do you think that would help reduce the backlog? >> yes, i would contribute to more decisions being written. >> and these activities which are funded by taxpayers, do you think this would further help reduce the backlog? >> i think you have to look at the whole -- >> i do not want to hear about things in totality, that is how we get lost in this government.
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we forget that every single penny came out of the pocket of hard-working american taxpayers. i know how social security works, i am from the private sector, and i know it is based on taxes. what is everybody doing now? i don't know judge, how you can look with other judges coming on, that nobody is being hired for support staff. maybe ask those other folks who are spending 255,000 hours doing that, do you want to help with the backlog? i get spun up about this because we keep chasing this, we would talking about when he more money and more people. the backlog keeps rising! people we say to the back home is, stay tuned, we will get to you eventually. mr. chairman, thank you, i yield back. >> thank you.
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>> thank you for your questioning and miss, you are recognized. >> thank you mr. chairman. we always hold hearings presenting the social security administration for backlogs and fraud but we never do anything about it. there tends to be a, trent -- common thread with all of the problems that are raised. the line of questioning which just went down is sort of a red herring but it all boils down to lack of funding, basically. i know that people do not want to spend money, but the social security at mr. xu has been flat funded since 2011. has been badly funded since 2011. there is a thing called inflation that contributes to the cost of doing business. in addition, we have an aging baby boomer population, and increased demand on these
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services, and i'm disability claims have been on the rise over the course of the 30 year history. i doubt the number of claims has stayed flat. we can expect social security or any other federal government agency for that matter to do more with less and less. in demand, youe need an increase in resources to deal with the issue and there is no substitute for resources. noah much of congressional hearings and waving our arms and screaming into a microphone is going to make up for the fact that you all are not receiving the funding that you should receive. it is not keeping pace with their demand. here we are again one more time talking about the backlog, reprimanding social security but not considering actual ways to fix it. unacceptable, 600 days is too long for people in need to wait for a decision. as was testified, the longer
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people wait, the greater the hardships they face. so it is imperative that social security have the number of alj 's that they need and support staff to process those reviews in a timely manner. social security as meant to be there when in the fisheries needed to more -- need it the most. i know what the lack of resources can mean. we all want social security administration magically to be able to process these claims in a very quick turnaround. heaven forbid, we do not want you to make a mistake either! we want a decision to be correct, correct decisions mean that you need all of the information and it takes time to get all of the information, sometimes from the petitioners themselves. everything to work perfectly, and we live in an imperfect world. notainly, if would do allocate the resources needed, we will not see any trend reversal! , would like to go to miss zahn
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you are trying to do a calculation about how many cases could be taken out of the backlog if you had just one alj hired, one more clerk and an attorney to help them. can you tell me the envelope calculation? >> yes, let me correct, one clerical employee and two attorneys. >> roughly how many? >> i think between 150 to 200,000 extra decisions a year. we are ready put out a 700,000 decisions per year, that would make a dent in the backlog. >> yes, nobody is talking about what you are getting right! everyone is focused on everything falling apart. i happen to be a believer in government, i believe they can do everything competently if they are given the right resources. miss desmond, how big of an impact has the low level funding
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had on the social security administration's ability to process claims? >> i think if you look at what we have achieved, social security has managed to identify priorities and to establish the processing of claims for our constituents. and also it has used technology to enhance decisions and provide different ways of providing the same service. >> but the question was, how has the funding impacted ability to write more decisions per year? has it positively or negatively impacted that? >> i think you can say that with more fines, we can do more. >> excellent! how much funding would be needed to bring the time down from 600 days? >> it makes a number of assumptions, that funding question. committeefrom our dds about the process.
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less crazes will go to the administrative judge, and we would send it to you with the number of assumptions, i will send it to you. >> do you think with demand growing you can keep level funding at us as a and expect who will reverse the trend of the backlog? >> i think that we can the president's budget, have enough to be able to stop the downward trend -- >> but could you get it to the recommended 270 days? >> if you say flat level funded? that is not to say that there are no cuts, we have heard about cuts potentially? budget, fordent's fiscal year 2019, we assume that we will continue to get a specific funding level to allow us to reduce the backlog. >> the time of the lady has expired -- >> excuse me, my last colleague was granted additional time. i would like to allow the witnesses to risk on in writing
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and not verbally. my question is that with level funding, you said that you could top that downward trend in the backlog -- how many years would it take you to catch up and get to the recommended 270 days? i will allow you to respond in writing. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> thank you mr. chairman, i thank you for having this hearing. ms. desmond, can you tell me how many administrative law judges there were in 2011. if my memory serves me correctly, and i will change that for the record it was about 1100. >> and currently there is how many? >> over 1600. >> so the lowest backlog that we had was in 2011 in recent history. and it showed that it was about 350, around there somewhere. and now we are at 600, in
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missouri are at 72 days. worse than the national average. why are we almost doubled, when we have almost doubled how many administrative law judges we have according to those numbers? >> i think if you look at the issues, the composition of staff we were able to hire over the years, the length of time for new hires of staff, it takes time to train the staff and have them be proficient, and also the receipts that came in with the initial disability level and made its way to the daoj level. it did not happen overnight, the curve, it has been incrementing. we also had problems hiring judges over the years. >> i am just really confused, if in 2011, we had 1100 people, administrative law judges, and today we have 1600, that is a sizable increase. does it take five years, to train people so that they can go
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through the cases or? i just don't, i cannot comprehend that. >> we had a. of time -- we had a period of time when we could not hire judges. about 225 were hired last year, 130 this year, and we lose about 100 judges a year. >> you hired about 350 new ones in the last year and a half. ok, thank you r telling me. in your testimony, you made the that there have been about 1000 new regulations. was it the social security administration deciding to come up with something different? >> the agency made changes to hearings in the manual that we use to adjudicate cases. approximately 1000, since 2011. and madeplicated
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more time-consuming our jobs. but also, in that same timeframe, since 2011, the size of our files have increased 55%. that does not even a counter the increase from fiscal year 2017! increasing,files numbers of applications going up since 2011, -- >> what percentage have they gone up since 2011? >> miss desmond would know. >> ok, i will get to her. you said that out of 1000 wills, there are several that are not necessarily needed. could you give me some examples of rules that are costing the judiciary time? instance, when a claimant tells us they have new medical evidence, they send in document saying- dr. jones,
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dr. smith, whatever -- i have been to the hospital, -- the clerk has to contact the claimant and say, you need to get these documents. days, theto wait 30 documents will not come in, if it is a non-represeing claimant, they are not coming in. we contact the claimant and say, why are they not committed? and then, they have to go and say to the judge, what do you want us to do? and of course, the judge will always say, i want you to get those documents. with unrepresented people, where are we doing this? they will not get the documents, if they get them, they will not be complete. simply, onceuld they are notified that there is another medical provider, and present for the document.
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that would be less time-consuming, then this dance between us, the claimants, the judge, whatever -- it takes time, staff time, and at the end of the day, we will ask for the documents anyway! so i do we not just do it to begin with? >> ok, good pot. you said that last year, 750,000 claims -- >> about 700,000 claims, i believe, were dispositions or issued, it might be 690, whatever. >> i just wanted to arify mrs. sanchez's question and mr. larson, i think, you said that one new administrative law judge and the appropate personnel for their office would create a reduction in backlog by what amount a year? 150-200,000about for each. >> for each judge, or?
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>> over all. based upon -- we are ready put out about 700,000, i think we could do a next her 150-200,000 if i had a clerk and two attorneys. >> withow many lawyers hired? >> i do not know exactly how many the agency has. >> ok, all right -- >> i do not know how many more -- >> what the gym and is saying, he is asking about the staff, not the judges -- >> exactly. >> trying to make sure they are fully staffed? >> exactly. >> ok thank you. >> the time for the gentleman has expired. i ask for a unanimous consent for the report. mr. kelly's reference to the record without objections,o ordered. as we have heard todaysocial security has lot of work to do, people are waiting to long to get a hearing.
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that is simply unacceptable. the good news is that social security has a plan, the bad news is that it will take, according to them, until 2022 -- [laughter] to get it done. social security needs to get its wait times under control and the american people deserve no less. i would like to thank our witnesses for their testimony and nations out there. thank you also to our members, for being here. >> can i have -- >> mr. larson, you are recoized -- >> i wanted to thank the panelists and the airman. i would likeo have her, yo did not get an portunity to follow up on a number of things, then only person here carrying the perspective of individuals impacted by this way times. i think there is a desire from everybody here to get aft the issue.
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mr. chairman, i thank you, what would you recommend, this -- miss eckman, as a plan of action? >> thank you, ranking member larsen. thisnk everyone sitting at table would agree that the earlier we can get an evidentiary recordnd application process, the quicker decisions we can make. we would recommend that the ssa maybe take a little bit longer at the initial decision, to more fully developed a record. many claims are unrepresented and as judge shaw said, they are not helpful, there aren dire medical streets often, when they are going through the process of application. denials,e reviews of less than 3% of denials are currently reviewed -- to ensure that the decision is correct, would assist in that. i think one thi that does not
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help is creating arbitrary deadlines prior to hearing for the submission of evidence. if there are a few bad actors who are not getting e evidence in, social security has a lot of tools at their disposal to take care of those particular representatives. what we should not be doing is passing arbitrarily excluding roles based on a timeline, which hits the claimant over the head instead of addressing any ba actors, bad actions by representatives. what we should do is figure out how to get evidence in early in the process, d assist claimants to do that, so that we can avoid hing to go through rther stages of appeal. >> i would like to thank you again, and thank you all of our witnesses and the chairman. just one final comment, about what we were discussing rlier. we do not believeon either sidethat money in and of itself is the solution.
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but we cannot overlook the fact, we have had a large increase of a b bloomberg coming through the process, at this time, either. it would be -- an increase of baby bmers cinthrough the process at this time. with technology assistance, and the commsense recommendations that the judges made, and the recommendations of the gao, that perhaps, i hope we are well on our way, of finding where it is the actual money in the system could best benefit. whether it is additional clerks, the streamlining of information, less regulations, actually getting to some of these commonsense recommendations, that we could actually make rock make progress on, instead of actually having hearing. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, i appreciate you being here with us. one of the things, people are
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waiting too long to get a hearing, which is simply acceptable. plan,od news is ssa has a and the bad news is that it will take till 2022 to get it done. to get these way times under control, the american people deserve no less. thank you all for being here and thank you for your testimony. thank you also to our members who are still here, -- >> with that, the subcommittee stands adjourned. announcer: this weekend on c-span twos looks to be, tonight at 7:30 p.m., vermont senator and former presidential candidate, bernieanders offers
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his thoughts on how to bring about change in america. >> what is the agenda? what should we be doing as a nati? if y have a middle class which is shrinking, millions of people having in poverty, and sometimes the firstte poverty, thing, i think, we have to do, is demanded that if you work 40 hours a week in iowa, vermont, or in america, you are not living in poverty. >> then at 9:00, fox news country bitter douglas shown discusses his book "america in the age of trump, opportunities and oppositions in an unsettled world." >> my bo tries to forge common sense and partisan solutions to the problems we are facing. i would argue that those problems are getting worse, and to a great degree, they are being made worse still, our political readership. >>

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