Social Security Administration Struggles to Collect $5.4 Billion Overpaid to Disabled Workers

Posted: 07/29/2011

Last month it was revealed that the Social Security Administration overpaid approximately $5.4 billion in benefits to disabled workers in 2009; this week the United States Government Accountability Office indicated that the agency is having a difficult time recovering much of the money it overpaid in 2009, 2010, and in previous years.

The report found the following: “While the agency collected, or recovered, $839 million in overpayments in fiscal year 2010, monies still owed by beneficiaries grew by $225 million that same year, and cumulative DI overpayment debt reached $5.4 billion.”

These overpayments are most often the result of the agency not having timely information about beneficiaries’ earnings. Read more »

Hospital Spending Down Now That Medicare Foots Prescription Drug Bill

Posted: 07/27/2011

Medicare has been paying for its beneficiaries’ prescription drugs since January 2006, and a new study finds that this change has had a large fiscal effect on nursing homes and hospitals.

The study–published in The Journal of the American Medical Association by researchers at Harvard Medical School in Boston–determined that spending on hospital and nursing home stays is down now that Medicare Part D has made it easier for seniors to manage health problems on their own. Read more »

Man Arrested After Hitting and Killing 7-Year-Old Boy with Car

Posted: 07/27/2011

July 27, 2011

A Sumner, Illinois man was arrested Monday for driving under the influence, after killing a 7-year-old boy who was riding his bike. News Channel 10 reports that the driver was heading eastbound on South/East Street when the boy’s bike veered slightly into the lane and was struck by the vehicle. The driver, 31 years of age, was arrested by officers at the scene after failing field sobriety tests and was booked for driving under the influence. Read more »

Budget Cuts Mean Social Security Field Offices Will Close a Half-Hour Early

Posted: 07/25/2011

Congressional budget cuts are forcing the Social Security Administration to reduce its public hours. Beginning August 15, 2011, Social Security field offices across the country will close to the public 30 minutes early each day. The hours will vary across the board, but if a field office is normally open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., it will now close daily at 3:30 p.m., according to a news release from the agency. Read more »

Social Security Judge Retires As Investigation of Work Record Continues

Posted: 07/22/2011

An administrative law judge from Huntington, West Virginia—David B. Daugherty—has announced his retirement as multiple investigations into his work record continue. Daugherty, 75, came under fire in May when The Wall Street Journal published a front-page whistle-blower questioning why the judge awarded Social Security Disability benefits in nearly all of the cases that he’s decided over the last few years.

Specifically, Daugherty awarded disability benefits in all of the 729 cases he decided in the first half of 2011, and in 2010 he granted benefits to all but four of the 1,300 cases he decided. Read more »

Two Injured When Car Strikes Moped

Posted: 07/20/2011

July 20, 2011

An accident in which a car struck a moped occurred last Saturday night, sending two people to the hospital and another to jail. The Terre Haute Tribune Star reported the accident occurred around 10:30 PM on US 40. The driver of the Buick Skylark involved in the crash stated that a driver in front of him made a sudden lane change, causing him to swerve to avoid a collision with that vehicle, instead striking the rear of the moped. Read more »

The ‘Gang of Six’ on Social Security and The Federal Deficit

Posted: 07/20/2011

Have you heard of the “Gang of Six” yet? It’s a group of six bipartisan senators who have outlined a plan to cut the federal deficit by $3.7 trillion over the next decade. And their timing is impeccable, with the U.S. government set to begin defaulting on its loans on August 3.

Not all of what they say is palatable to the masses, but here’s the bit about Social Security that we think you’d be interested in:

The Gang of Six—comprised of Kent Conrad, Dick Durbin, Mark Warner, Saxby Chambliss, Tom Coburn, and Mike Crapo—proposes to reform Social Security for future generations by ensuring that Social Security remains solvent for the next 75 years and offering a decennial review of the program to make sure it remains solvent. Read more »

Social Security Administration Accidentally ‘Kills’ 14,000 Americans Each Year

Posted: 07/18/2011

The United States government inadvertently places an estimated 14,000 living people in the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File each year, according to Memphis’s The Commerical Appeal.

The Social Security Administration has admitted that about one in every 200 of the 92 million people indexed in the Death Master File are not, in fact, dead. The agency attributed the majority of these discrepancies to “inadvertent keying errors.”

“Our goal is zero errors, but some errors are unavoidable and we are continuing to make improvements in the death reporting process,” SSA spokesman Dorothy Clark told The Commercial Appeal in an email. Read more »

Chained CPI Formula Would Rip Off Needy Seniors, Says L.A. Times

Posted: 07/15/2011

A new Los Angeles Times editorial makes no bones about its opposition to a proposed change to the way inflation is calculated for Social Security beneficiaries.

“Of all the ways policymakers in Washington show they have absolutely no conception of how their tinkerings with the federal budget affect average Americans, one stands alone,” writes Michael Hiltzik. “That’s the proposal to change the formula that determines annual cost-of-living increases for people on Social Security.”

Some lawmakers have suggested that the chained consumer price index (CPI) formula be used instead of the agency’s current method for calculating COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment). Read more »

Obama: ‘I Cannot Guarantee That Social Security Checks Will Go Out’ Next Month

Posted: 07/13/2011

Retired and disabled citizens of the United States are sweating collective bullets right about now as the clock ticks down on Congress’s federal deficit negotiations.

In a new CBS news interview with President Obama that aired Tuesday, reporter Scott Pelley asked the President if he could reassure Americans that their checks would be in the mail on August 3 despite the up-in-the-air talks of either raising the federal debt ceiling or implementing budget cuts. Read more »