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#320918 - 02/02/20 07:43 AM Change proposed by Trump Administration could cut SS benefits for thousands
NW Ponderer Offline
Moderator
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/09/11
Posts: 17336
I just lost a 5000-character post on the above, with numerous citations. Argh! I'll try to reconstitute it in the morning. This is in relation to this proposed rule: Rules Regarding the Frequency and Notice of Continuing Disability Reviews. Much more to follow.

Trump's Plan to Strengthen Social Security Involves Cutting Disability Benefits (Motley Fool).

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#320925 - 02/02/20 04:09 PM Re: Change proposed by Trump Administration could cut SS benefits for thousands [Re: NW Ponderer]
Jeffery J. Haas Offline
It's the Despair Quotient!
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/04
Posts: 15437
Loc: Whittier, California
Originally Posted By: NW Ponderer
I just lost a 5000-character post on the above, with numerous citations. Argh! I'll try to reconstitute it in the morning. This is in relation to this proposed rule: Rules Regarding the Frequency and Notice of Continuing Disability Reviews. Much more to follow.

Trump's Plan to Strengthen Social Security Involves Cutting Disability Benefits (Motley Fool).


I can only respond from personal family experience.
The disabilities for both Karen and Daryl are permanent.
The only way Karen's disability will ever go away is if medical science advances light years, we're talking Captain Kirk and the 24th century, and the only thing that will ever mitigate Daryl's disability is a heart transplant.

But the bigger issue is the fact that Donald Trump and the Party of Trump really intend to do away with Social Security altogether, by any means necessary. Make no mistake, when you hear a Republican talk about SAVING a functioning government program, that is codespeak for either privatizing it or eliminating it altogether.
_________________________
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#320929 - 02/02/20 05:33 PM Re: Change proposed by Trump Administration could cut SS benefits for thousands [Re: NW Ponderer]
NW Ponderer Offline
Moderator
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/09/11
Posts: 17336
I think the thing that infuriates me most is the dishonesty that informs these processes. It would be one thing if they said "we disagree with this policy, so we're going to change it", but they don't. They give it lip service while they gut it from the back. They are insidious parasites that eat up programs from within. This is a prime example of that.

This rule change was not prompted by a problem with the program or process. While there are plenty of problems, frequency and standards were not the issue.
Quote:
There are now more than a million people across the country waiting for hearings, and, adding to the strain, the administration’s core operating budget has shrunk by 10 percent since 2010.
Long Waits And Long Odds For Those Who Need Social Security Disability (Kaiser). As it is,
Quote:
In the U.S., fewer than half of people who apply for disability benefits — about 45 percent — are ultimately accepted, says Lisa Ekman with the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives. Getting a hearing takes an average of nearly 600 days.

This is pay off to a plan to make the system worse. It is an ideological maneuver orchestrated by Mick Mulvaney and the Koch brothers (I kid you not). It was directed by Mulvaney, and implemented by the Koch's "man on the inside", Mark Warshawsky. Warshawsky comes from the Mercatus Center, a Koch-funded "think tank" devoted to promoting Austrian school economic policies (think extreme libertarian). He has a long history of mucking around with social Security as point man for Bush's privatization program.

The first whack occurred in 2017.
Quote:
This spring, the Social Security Administration introduced changes to fight fraud and streamline the application process, including a new rule that removes special consideration given to a person’s longtime doctor. Ekman said this is a mistake.

“Those changes would now put the evidence from a treating physician on the same weight as evidence from a medical consultant employed to do a one-time brief examination or a medical consultant they had do a review of the paper file and may have never examined the individual,” Ekman said.
It's the same play book used in the impeachment trial- deny the witnesses! (I've, personally, been in a similar situation with the VA regarding some service-related injuries. Fortunately, x- rays can tell compelling stories.)

So, what are these changes? Threefold (from the Federal Register:
Quote:
The proposed rules would add a category to the existing medical diary categories that we use to schedule CDRs and revise the criteria for assigning each of the medical diary categories to cases. The proposed rules would also change the frequency with which we perform a CDR for claims with the medical diary category for permanent impairments.
Ostensibly, this is to "identify medical improvement (MI) at its earliest point." This is, in the vernacular, a
lie.

(More to follow)

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#320930 - 02/02/20 06:11 PM Re: Change proposed by Trump Administration could cut SS benefits for thousands [Re: NW Ponderer]
NW Ponderer Offline
Moderator
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/09/11
Posts: 17336
Some translation of Social-security-speak is in order:
"medical diary categories" are what SSA calls scheduling priorities.
"CDRs" are“ continuing disability reviews” - reviews conducted, legitimately, by SS to determine if continuation of benefits is justified. To do so, there are three "medical diary" categories to which each case is assigned (consistent with the Social Security Disability Amendments of 1980 (thank you conservatives), all SSDI and SSI cases have to have z periodic review.
Prior to that, SS conducted CDRs only on a limited set of beneficiaries who had conditions that we expected to improve.). These categories are presently:
"Medical Improvement Expected" - usually for temporary but serious conditions, like neonatal, or accident recovery, and are reviewed every 6-18 months.
"Medical Improvement Possible" for more serious conditions where the outcome is uncertain, reviewed "at least" every 3 years.
"Medical Improvement Not Expected" for permanent conditions. These are reviewed every 5-7 years, and can be somewhat streamlined if the condition is obvious and severe.
The "new category" is "Medical Improvement Likely".

Wait, you ask, how is "likely" different than "expected"? It isn't. It does not involve new medical criteria, just an excuse to up the pressure. Here's the money quote (literally):
Quote:
For many disabling impairments, the key element for MI [medical improvement] is a person's receipt of treatment that can decrease the severity of the impairment and its effects. When people do not receive adequate treatment, any MI in the disabling impairment(s) may not occur when we would otherwise expect it for impairments likely to improve. This is especially important in light of the data documenting the percentage of individuals with unmet health care needs. In 2015, 31.4 percent of people with two or more chronic conditions delayed, or did not obtain, needed medical care due to a cost or other non-cost reason (even if they had health insurance).[39] Scheduling a CDR under the MIE category (6 to 18 months) may be premature when MI does not occur as expected due to unmet health care needs. The MIL diary category will allow us to assess MI after some beneficiaries benefit from access to health care through Medicare or Medicaid to determine if they continue to be eligible for benefits.
You get that? This is "The ACA passed, so now we're gonna punish you for that." In black and white.


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#320932 - 02/02/20 06:32 PM Re: Change proposed by Trump Administration could cut SS benefits for thousands [Re: NW Ponderer]
NW Ponderer Offline
Moderator
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/09/11
Posts: 17336
To fully understand how insidious and underhanded this rule is, look at the "justification":
Quote:
When we identify and evaluate MI at its earliest point, beneficiaries know the CDR outcome and can make plans for their return to the labor force within a shorter period of time. We believe that there may be positive employment effects as a result of these proposed rules, although we cannot currently quantify them. For example, using our administrative data [40] on entitlement periods and earnings for a group of beneficiaries and recipients whose benefits terminated due to a 1997 statutory change, a researcher at the National Bureau of Economic Research looked at the effect of the loss of benefit eligibility on work activity during the year of benefit termination and the next 11 years (1997 through 2008).[41] Overall, about 22 percent returned to work at an SGA [substantial gainful activity] level* during the first three years following benefit termination.

In many cases, shortening the time a person spends out of the labor force may improve work outcomes. Our analysis of our administrative data confirms that the majority of all working-age people in the general population [42] who spend one year or more out of the work force [43] do not return to work at an SGA level


This is, literally, about forcing disabled people to work. It's not about saving tax dollars, or being fair, or determining medical justifications - it's about converting SSDI and SSI into welfare programs, and treating them as such. $1220/month is, again literally, HALF THE POVERTY LEVEL.

*"substantial gainful activity" (SGA) - the level at which work affects SS benefits, or "too much work." In 2019, SGA is defined as earning $1,220 or more a month from working, or $2,040 for blind people.

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#320933 - 02/02/20 06:56 PM Re: Change proposed by Trump Administration could cut SS benefits for thousands [Re: NW Ponderer]
NW Ponderer Offline
Moderator
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/09/11
Posts: 17336
The volume and detail of this post/thread is a reflection of my emotional state. I'm royally pissed. This started when my wife came to me in a panic about this rule change. I said I'd look into it. When I did, I thought I'd entered the Paris sewers - difficult to navigate, dank, smelly, dark and full of rats. It is unlikely to affect her, personally, but the sleazyness of the effort made my skin crawl.

It is likely that this rule will be implemented, as ideologues are in charge, and facts no longer matter, but opposition is getting fierce. Social Security Targeted Again (Canton Ledger, opinion). "The change – foreshadowed this summer, when House Republicans introduced H.R. 3566, titled the “Social Security Disability Insurance Return to Work Act” – would add an extra step to an already-complex process."; TRUMP ADMIN'S DISABILITY BENEFIT CHANGES...R 140 LAWMAKERS (Newsweek); TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FACES BACKLASH OVER...TLEMENT FUNDING (Newsweek, again).
Quote:
At the time of writing, Regulations.gov has received 86,428 comments about the rule change and published more than 71,000 of those, many of which are critical of the idea.
Trump seeks to bring back Social Security rule changes, one of Reagan's worst ideas (the Hill).

It may be too late to comment in the regulation, but it's not too late to contact Congress.

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#320936 - 02/02/20 08:54 PM Re: Change proposed by Trump Administration could cut SS benefits for thousands [Re: NW Ponderer]
jgw Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 05/22/06
Posts: 3067
Loc: Port Angeles, WA
The problem is in how congress messed with basic social security. They should have setup another system to deal with disabilities as Social Security was designed, basically, to force folks to save money for their elder years. No more, no less. Then Congress decided to 'fix' it. I am, incidentally, a big fan of specific money for specific tasks of government and am not a fan of piles of money for piles of stuff.

All that being said I don't think that his plans can get through congress. I think his plan is to solve the debt deficit by cutting things like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He really has made no bones about it. The Republicans have been after them for years and he is simply giving them yet another one of their dreams. The problem, of course, is that they have no thoughts of probably responsibility. The other problem is that its somehow all Trump's fault and that would be wrong. Again - the Republicans have been after these three things from the getgo - after all, these are things that individuals are supposed to take care of on their own, this is just giving them the opportunity to do that. (I know, its insane but that is, on a very basic level, the really serious (extreme) view of many conservatives)


Edited by jgw (02/02/20 08:55 PM)

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#320947 - 02/03/20 08:55 AM Re: Change proposed by Trump Administration could cut SS benefits for thousands [Re: jgw]
NW Ponderer Offline
Moderator
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/09/11
Posts: 17336
I don't mean to be critical, because we're basically in agreement, but I think it is important to clarify what seem to be two misperceptions about SSA, SSDI and SSI.
Originally Posted By: jgw
The problem is in how congress messed with basic social security. They should have setup another system to deal with disabilities as Social Security was designed, basically, to force folks to save money for their elder years. No more, no less.
That is a fundamental mischaracterization of Social Security old age benefits, and is even more inaccurate when discussing SSDI and SSI, which are, in fact, separate funds.
Quote:
The "Social Security Trust Fund" comprises two separate funds that hold federal government debt obligations related to what are traditionally thought of as Social Security benefits. The larger of these funds is the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund, which holds in trust special interest-bearing federal government securities bought with surplus OASI payroll tax revenues.[8] The second, smaller fund is the Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund, which holds in trust more of the special interest-bearing federal government securities, bought with surplus DI payroll tax revenues.[9]

The trust funds are "off-budget" and treated separately in certain ways from other federal spending, and other trust funds of the federal government.
(Wikipedia).

The important takeaways, I think, are that 1) SS old age benefits were never intended to "force savings". That is not how they were structured or justified. Rather, they were a hedge against destitution, and act as an insurance pool. Second, SSDI (disability insurance) operates a separate fund, based upon a different actuarial matrix. Both are, though, fundamentally, insurance products, not savings plans. SSI, though, is a separate program and does not have a separate fund. It is, essentially, government "self insurance " on behalf of citizens, and is paid out of the general fund.

Originally Posted By: jgw
All that being said I don't think that his plans can get through congress.
Unfortunately, his plans don't have to go through Congress. These are rule changes. While he had other designs, as you say, "to solve the debt deficit by cutting things like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."; which "The Republicans have been after" for years and he is "simply giving them yet another one of their dreams." He can do plenty of structural damage without Congress, through rule changes. Congress simply did not anticipate such irresponsible behavior and brazen abuse of rulemaking authority when they delegated so much flexibility to the agency.

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#320965 - 02/03/20 05:21 PM Re: Change proposed by Trump Administration could cut SS benefits for thousands [Re: NW Ponderer]
Jeffery J. Haas Offline
It's the Despair Quotient!
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/04
Posts: 15437
Loc: Whittier, California
Originally Posted By: NW Ponderer
Unfortunately, his plans don't have to go through Congress. These are rule changes. While he had other designs, as you say, "to solve the debt deficit by cutting things like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."; which "The Republicans have been after" for years and he is "simply giving them yet another one of their dreams." He can do plenty of structural damage without Congress, through rule changes. Congress simply did not anticipate such irresponsible behavior and brazen abuse of rulemaking authority when they delegated so much flexibility to the agency.


Rule changes? Are you saying that he can accomplish this through EO's?
_________________________
"The Best of the Leon Russell Festivals" DVD
deepfreezefilms.com

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#320966 - 02/03/20 06:34 PM Re: Change proposed by Trump Administration could cut SS benefits for thousands [Re: NW Ponderer]
Hamish Howl Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/21/19
Posts: 487
Loc: Tucson, AZ
It wouldn't be America in 2020 if el presidente couldn't [censored] over old people and orphans on a whim.
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