Wednesday, January 30, 2008

NPRM – SSA Suspends Proposed Rule Changes

Commissioner Michael J. Astrue asked the Chairman of the Social Security Sub Committee to “suspend” the proposed changes to SSA’s appeal process. Astrue notes in a letter dated January 29, 2008 that after frank and productive discussions with representatives of the disability community, one problem emerged - medical providers denying timely access to medical records.

We agree. This is a longstanding reality. Many providers not only delay, but actually withhold medical records because the claimants are behind in payments to the physician, clinic or hospital where the records are housed. This makes it difficult for appeals to proceed and in many cases, results in a denial of benefits.

Astrue went on to say that it was time for Congress to look into the problem of medical providers who delay or withhold records. Again, we agree.

Finally, Commissioner Astrue also suspended one of the appeal branch initiatives in the Boston Region. These steps continue to raise hopes that a reassessment of the proposed changes will emerge as they meet the reality of the processes facing disability claimants and representatives who advocate for timely and accurate disability adjudication.

Link to Post/ Article

Saturday, January 5, 2008

December 20, 2007 - The House sends Commissioner Astrue a Note on SSA's Proposed Appeal Changes...

"Dramatic changes are unjustified. The backlog is the result of
chronic underfunding of SSA's Administrative budget, not faulty
appeals procedures."

In this 10-page tome, the House of Representatives sends SSA a letter regarding the proposals. The deftly worded, detailed missive displays a firm grasp of the downside to the proposals. Well worth the read, the letter continues in the general skein of what a potentially bad idea this particular move by the agency portends. The letter is signed by John Dingell, John Conyers, Charles Rangel, Pete Stark, Henry Waxman, Howard Berman, John Lewis, Frank Palone, Jr., Jim McDermott, Michael McNulty and Linda Sanchez.