Monday, January 27, 2014

The SSA Has Wrongly Classified Some Beneficiaries as Being in Prison

Social Security disability beneficiaries suffer a great deal from the frequent mistakes and the overall incompetence of the Social Security Administration.  Almost on weekly basis, I see horrible mix ups that cause a great deal of pain and aggravation to disabled individuals.  Unfortunately these days, the media is so concerned with news reports that discredit the importance of the disability benefit programs, that they ignore the pain and suffering endured by those who fall victim to the ineptitude of the SSA.
Take the example of the terrible injustice committed against Fernando Ortiz from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., whose benefits were discontinued twice because the SSA mistakenly believed that he was in prison.  Twice Mr. Ortiz was told that his benefits were being stopped because he was supposedly serving time at the Pondville Correctional Center in Massachusetts.  However, officials from the Massachusetts prison have stated that they don't understand how this mistake could have happened because they don't have any prisoners with that name.  
This problem seems to happen quite frequently.  I recall receiving at least one call from a client in Springfield, Massachusetts regarding a similar problem.  However, in Mr. Ortiz's case, the mistake happened twice within a five month period.  In December, the SSA sent a letter to Mr. Ortiz alleging that he was in prison and that he was liable for a $6,883.60 "overpayment" of his benefits.  The bureaucratic mess dragged into January and Ortiz had to drain his small savings to pay his bills.  Moreover, his Medicare benefits were also discontinued due to the problem, causing him to have to cancel an important doctor's appointment.  
What is most ironic about this story is the fact that, just a few months ago, the enemies of Social Security Disability were claiming that beneficiaries of the program were often overpaid --implying that large numbers of beneficiaries were ripping off the system.  Obviously, these critics were not taking into consideration the fact that in many cases these alleged over payment letters are sent due to errors within the agency and not due to actual over payments received by the beneficiaries.