SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
Office of Disability Adjudication and Review Hearing Request Dismissals
July 14, 2010
The Honorable Claire McCaskill
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator McCaskill:
In an August 4, 2009 letter, you asked that we conduct a review regarding Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) hearing request dismissals to ensure that disabled individuals are afforded the rights and protections required by law and regulations. To address your request, we examined dismissal rates and determined whether ODAR followed applicable policies and procedures in dismissing hearing requests.
I appreciate the opportunity to share our insights on this important matter. As discussed in the enclosed report, we found improvements could be made for dismissing hearing requests. Our review also identified unsupported variances in dismissal rates among ODAR’s regions, hearing offices, and administrative law judges. In a separate report, we plan to make recommendations to the Social Security Administration that will address the issues identified in this review.
If you have any questions concerning this matter, please call me or have your staff contact Misha Kelly, Congressional and Intra-governmental Liaison at (202) 358-6319.
Patrick P. O’Carroll, Jr.
Michael J. Astrue
By conducting independent and objective audits, evaluations and investigations, we inspire public confidence in the integrity and security of SSA’s programs and operations and protect them against fraud, waste and abuse. We provide timely, useful and reliable information and advice to Administration officials, Congress and the public.
The Inspector General Act created independent audit and investigative units, called the Office of Inspector General (OIG). The mission of the OIG, as spelled out in the Act, is to:
Conduct and supervise independent and objective audits and investigations relating to agency programs and operations.
Promote economy, effectiveness, and efficiency within the agency.
Prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse in agency programs and operations.
Review and make recommendations regarding existing and proposed legislation and regulations relating to agency programs and operations.
Keep the agency head and the Congress fully and currently informed of problems in agency programs and operations.
To ensure objectivity, the IG Act empowers the IG with:
Independence to determine what reviews to perform.
Access to all information necessary for the reviews.
Authority to publish findings and recommendations based on the reviews.
We strive for continual improvement in SSA’s programs, operations and management by proactively seeking new ways to prevent and deter fraud, waste and abuse. We commit to integrity and excellence by supporting an environment that provides a valuable public service while encouraging employee development and retention and fostering diversity and innovation.
Our objective was to address the request of Senator Claire McCaskill regarding Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) hearing request dismissals. Specifically, we examined dismissal rates and determined whether ODAR followed applicable policies and procedures in dismissing hearing requests.
ODAR is responsible for holding hearings and issuing decisions as part of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) process for determining whether a person may receive benefits. ODAR directs a nation-wide field organization staffed with administrative law judges (ALJ) who are tasked with conducting impartial hearings and making decisions on appealed determinations involving Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance benefits (Title II) and Supplemental Security Income payments (Title XVI).
Regulations specify conditions under which an ALJ may dismiss a claimant’s request for hearing (see Appendix C). In Fiscal Year (FY) 2009, ODAR issued dispositions on 660,842 hearing requests, of which 103,071 (16 percent) were dismissals.
In an August 4, 2009 letter, Senator McCaskill requested that we review dismissals of hearing requests to ensure disabled individuals are afforded the rights and protections required by law and regulations. The Senator also requested we determine whether there are any unusual dismissal trends by individual ALJs or by regions.
To address Senator McCaskill’s request, we performed case review analysis on selected hearing request dismissals to determine whether there was documentation to support the dismissal. In addition, we examined dismissal rates by region, hearing office, and ALJ.
Results of Review
We reviewed three dismissal types to determine whether ODAR followed applicable policies and procedures in dismissing hearing requests. First, we analyzed ALJ dismissals for untimely hearing requests, as requested by Senator McCaskill. In addition, we reviewed the two most prevalent dismissal types: abandonment and withdrawal.
We found that there were areas where improvements could be made for dismissing hearing requests. Improvements were needed most in the area of untimely hearing request dismissals.
• For untimely hearing requests, our review disclosed cases where dismissals were not (1) appropriate, (2) supported by ODAR requests for claimants’ explanations for untimely filing, (3) supported by an ALJ rationale, or (4) processed timely.
• For abandonment dismissals, we found cases where the dismissals were issued without the necessary attempts to contact claimants documented in the case folders.
• For withdrawal dismissals, we found one case where the claimant’s case folder did not contain evidence the claimant or the claimant’s representative requested the hearing request be withdrawn.
Our analysis of dismissal rates identified wide variances among ODAR regions, hearing offices, and ALJs. ODAR stated that scientific or statistical data do not exist to support an explanation of dismissal rate variances. Although ODAR stated economic and demographic factors might explain the variances, it did not expand on those factors or how they impact variances in dismissal rates.
We will issue a separate report to the Commissioner of SSA with recommendations to correct the problems with hearing request dismissals found during this review.
UNTIMELY HEARING REQUEST DISMISSALS
We reviewed 50 cases dismissed in FY 2009 where ODAR determined the claimant filed the hearing request untimely, that is, not within the prescribed number of days after the prior determination or decision. , Our review disclosed cases where dismissals were not
• supported by ODAR requests for claimants’ explanations for untimely filing,
• supported by an ALJ rationale, or
• processed timely.
Dismissals Were Not Appropriate
In 2 of the 50 untimely hearing request dismissals we reviewed, it appeared the ALJ should not have issued an untimely hearing request dismissal.
• One claimant filed the hearing request timely (18 days after the denial determination) yet the ALJ issued an untimely hearing request dismissal. The claimant appealed the dismissal to the Appeals Council, which remanded the decision back to the ALJ. The ALJ subsequently issued a fully favorable decision. Because the ALJ initially issued a dismissal, the claimant waited an additional 393 days to receive an allowance decision.
• Another claimant filed the hearing request untimely (112 days after the denial determination). However, on the hearing request, the claimant alleged she was not notified of her denial within the 65-day timeframe to file an appeal. After the dismissal was issued, the claimant provided additional evidence to the ALJ that the disability determination services (DDS) did not inform her of her denial until 112 days after the denial determination. Given the new evidence, the ALJ conducted a hearing and issued a fully favorable decision. We could not determine whether the ALJ knew, or should have known, of the claimant’s situation before issuing the dismissal. However, the circumstances surrounding the dismissal caused the claimant to wait an additional 145 days to receive an allowance decision.
Dismissals Were Not Supported by ODAR Requests for Claimants’ Explanations for Untimely Filing
For 7 of the 50 untimely hearing request dismissals we reviewed, there was no evidence in the claimants’ case folders that ODAR requested an explanation for late filing from the claimant (good cause). Therefore, we could not determine whether these claimants were afforded the rights granted to them by ODAR’s policy. According to ODAR, when the field office receives an untimely filed hearing request, the field office is instructed to obtain a written statement from the claimant explaining why they filed late. This statement is forwarded to the hearing office for evaluation by an ALJ as to whether good cause for missing the deadline is established. If the field office does not obtain the written statement, the hearing office is required to send the claimant a letter requesting an explanation for late filing.
Dismissals Were Not Supported by an ALJ Rationale
In 3 of the 50 untimely hearing request dismissals we reviewed, we could not determine whether the ALJ considered the claimant’s good cause. Specifically, the ALJ did not state in the Order of Dismissal why the claimant did not establish good cause for missing the deadline to request a hearing. ODAR’s policy requires that ALJs include a complete rationale in the Order of Dismissal explaining why the ALJ found that the claimant has not shown good cause for late filing.
For example, for these three untimely hearing request dismissals, we would have expected to see a rationale similar to one in another case we reviewed. In this case, the claimant filed his hearing request nearly 5 months late stating he had not read the denial notice carefully and thought he had 1 year to appeal. In the Order of Dismissal, the ALJ gave a rationale for issuing the dismissal, stating, “The fact that the claimant did not read his Notice of Disapproved Claim carefully does not constitute good cause for untimely filing. The claimant is well educated (3 years of college) and clearly had the ability to read the Notice and to follow the simple instructions provided in order to file an appeal in a timely manner.”
Dismissals Were Not Processed Timely
Days Between Hearing Request Date and Dismissal Issuance
Number of Days Number of Cases
30 days or less 11
More than 120 days 10
For the 50 untimely hearing request dismissals we reviewed, ODAR took between 6 and 637 days to issue the dismissal to the claimant (see Table 1). In fact, more than half the dismissals took more than 60 days. To identify reasons for delays in processing untimely hearing request dismissals, we reviewed the 10 cases that took more than 120 days from the hearing request date to the dismissal date. We found the following.
• Eight cases sat in the hearing office from 61 to 564 days before they were assigned to an ALJ for a dismissal decision. ODAR policy states cases that appear to meet the criteria for dismissal should be immediately assigned to an ALJ. However, according to ODAR, cases may not be assigned to ALJs immediately because hearing office staff must first screen all cases to identify those that may meet the criteria for dismissal. Cases identified as possible dismissals may then need further development. For example, hearing office staff may need to request explanations from the claimants for filing the hearing requests untimely.
• One case was assigned to an ALJ within 28 days of receipt in the hearing office; however, the dismissal was not issued for an additional 126 days. According to ODAR, under ideal conditions, it should take approximately 1 week for the ALJ to determine whether to dismiss a case. However, ODAR stated there are many unusual cases, and ALJs may need more time to adequately address the unique factors of each one.
• One case was not recorded in ODAR’s CPMS as received from the SSA field office until 92 days after the hearing request was signed by the claimant; however, upon receipt, ODAR processed the case in 47 days.
According to ODAR, a specific timeframe for processing untimely hearing request dismissals has not been established because each case has unique factors. In addition, ODAR stated that processing time can be affected by the administrative process as a whole, including the (1) circumstances of the hearing office, such as workload and staffing, and (2) facts of the specific case since some cases may be ready for immediate processing while others require additional development.
We reviewed 50 cases dismissed in FY 2009 because the claimant abandoned the hearing, that is, the claimant did not appear at the scheduled hearing. , For seven cases, the claimants’ case folders did not contain evidence that ODAR attempted to contact the claimants, as required. These seven claimants did not return the form acknowledging receipt of the hearing notice. This form requests that claimants provide their intentions for attending the hearing. The ALJ may dismiss the hearing request if the claimant has not returned the acknowledgment notice. However, before issuing a dismissal for this reason, the ALJ should ensure all attempts to contact the claimant are clearly documented. Our review of the claimants’ case folders did not identify evidence of ODAR’s attempts to contact these seven claimants.
We reviewed 50 cases dismissed in FY 2009 because the claimant withdrew the hearing request. However, one claimant’s case file did not contain evidence the claimant wanted to withdraw the hearing request. ODAR policy indicates that an ALJ may dismiss a request for hearing, at the request of the claimant who filed the hearing request, any time before mailing notice of the decision if certain conditions are met. For example, the hearing request may be dismissed if the claimant or claimant’s representative has submitted a signed request to withdraw the hearing request or made such a request for withdrawal orally on the record at the hearing.
We analyzed all dismissals issued in FY 2009 and found that dismissal rates varied among ODAR regions, hearing offices, and ALJs. ODAR stated that scientific or statistical data do not exist to support an explanation of dismissal rate variances. Although ODAR stated economic and demographic factors may explain the variances, it did not expand on those factors or how they impact variances in dismissal rates.
We found that dismissal rates varied among ODAR’s 10 regions. Specifically, dismissal rates ranged from a low of 14 percent in the Dallas Region to a high of 23 percent in the Kansas City Region (see Table 2).
Percent of Dismissals by Region
Region Number of Dispositions Number of Dismissals Dismissal Rate
Kansas City 31,463 7,216 23%
New York 63,444 13,442 21%
Chicago 94,614 16,493 17%
Philadelphia 74,289 12,149 16%
Boston 22,866 3,681 16%
San Francisco 65,476 10,461 16%
Atlanta 174,838 26,999 15%
Seattle 17,940 2,677 15%
Denver 17,675 2,673 15%
Dallas 89,058 12,528 14%
We also found wide variances in dismissal rates within regions (see Table 3). For example, one hearing office in the Kansas City Region had a dismissal rate of 15 percent while another hearing office in the region had a dismissal rate of 34 percent. In fact, the Kansas City, Missouri, Hearing Office had the highest dismissal rate in the Nation at 34 percent.
High and Low Dismissal Rates per Hearing Office by Region
Region Hearing Office Dismissal Rates
Kansas City 34% 15%
New York 33% 5%
Philadelphia 26% 10%
Atlanta 26% 7%
Chicago 26% 10%
San Francisco 24% 11%
Boston 23% 14%
Dallas 21% 10%
Denver 19% 11%
Seattle 18% 10%
We also identified a wide variance in dismissal rates by ALJ. Although 90 percent of ALJs had dismissal rates of 25 percent or less, the dismissal rates by ALJ varied from 0 to 73 percent.
Of 1,176 ALJs in our review, 112 had dismissal rates between 26 and 73 percent. However, 56 of the 112 ALJs were Hearing Office Chief Administrative Law Judges (HOCALJ). It is ODAR’s procedure to assign HOCALJs cases that should receive a favorable dismissal. This may have resulted in these 56 HOCALJs having higher dismissal rates than other ALJs. However, we are unaware of any reasons why the remaining 56 ALJs would have disproportionately high dismissal rates.
We found that there were areas where improvements could be made for dismissing hearing requests. For example, SSA needs to remind employees that the actions taken to support dismissals should be documented in the claimants’ case folders. We also found wide variances in dismissal rates among ODAR’s regions, hearing offices, and ALJs. While variations in dismissal rates do not necessarily indicate improper dismissals, SSA does not have scientific or statistical data that explains the dismissal rate variances. Therefore, SSA would need to conduct a review to capture such data.
APPENDIX A – Acronyms
APPENDIX B – Scope and Methodology
APPENDIX C – Office of Disability Adjudication and Review Dismissal Types
APPENDIX D – Fiscal Year 2009 Dismissal Rates by Region and Hearing Office
ALJ Administrative Law Judge
C.F.R. Code of Federal Regulations
CPMS Case Processing and Management System
DDS Disability Determination Services
FY Fiscal Year
HALLEX Hearings, Appeals, and Litigation Law Manual
HOCALJ Hearing Office Chief Administrative Law Judge
ODAR Office of Disability Adjudication and Review
POMS Program Operations Manual System
SSA Social Security Administration
U.S.C. United States Code
Scope and Methodology
To address Senator McCaskill’s request related to Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) hearing request dismissals, we:
• Reviewed applicable Federal laws and regulations and pertinent parts of the Hearings, Appeals, and Litigation Law Manual related to administrative law judge (ALJ) hearings.
• Reviewed prior Office of the Inspector General, Government Accountability Office, and Social Security Advisory Board reports related to the ALJ hearings process.
• Obtained all dispositions during Fiscal Year 2009 from ODAR’s Case Processing and Management System (CPMS).
• Selected a sample of 50 cases each of untimely hearing request, abandonment, and withdrawal dismissals. We reviewed documentation in the claimant’s case folders to determine whether ODAR followed applicable policies and procedures in dismissing hearing requests.
• Analyzed dismissal rates by ODAR region, hearing office, and ALJ level.
• Obtained information from ODAR regarding policies and procedures for dismissing hearing requests.
Our work was conducted at the Office of Audit in Kansas City, Missouri, from September 2009 through February 2010. The entity audited was ODAR. We determined that the data used in this report were sufficiently reliable given the review objective and their intended use. We conducted our review in accordance with the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency’s Quality Standards for Inspections.
Office of Disability Adjudication and Review Dismissal Types
Type of Dismissal Dismissal Definition Number of Dismissals FY 2009
Abandonment The claimant did not appear for the hearing, and the administrative law judge (ALJ) did not find good cause for failure to appear. 46,675
Withdrawal The claimant withdrew the hearing request. 29,587
Favorable A lower level Social Security Administration (SSA) component issued a revised favorable decision, rendering the need for a hearing moot. 15,165
Untimely Hearing Request The hearing request was untimely, and the ALJ did not find good cause for late filing. 6,155
Other The Appeals Council remanded an earlier application for the same claim and time period. 3,328
Administrative The claimant did not have a right to a hearing. 3,234
Death The claimant died. 2,534
Special Dismissal code used under management direction. 2,254
Res Judicata SSA made a previous determination on the same facts and issues. The previous determination became final. 664
Abandonment Pre-hearing The claimant did not appear for the pre-hearing conference. 54
Improper Party An improper party filed the hearing request. 39
Fiscal Year 2009 Dismissal Rates by Region and Hearing Office
Location Number of Dispositions Number of Dismissals Dismissal Rate
Boston Region 22,866 3,681 16%
Providence, RI 2,613 592 23%
Portland, ME 2,961 500 17%
Manchester, NH 2,499 401 16%
Boston, MA 6,375 978 15%
Springfield, MA 3,090 456 15%
Hartford, CT 2,946 430 15%
New Haven, CT 2,372 324 14%
Boston Regional Office Staff 10 0 0%
New York Region 63,444 13,442 21%
Jericho, NY 4,918 1,623 33%
Syracuse, NY 5,001 1,593 32%
Bronx, NY 4,622 1,406 30%
Buffalo, NY 6,540 1,760 27%
Albany, NY 4,932 1,104 22%
New York, NY 7,681 1,497 19%
White Plains, NY 2,516 489 19%
Voorhees, NJ 3,902 738 19%
Brooklyn, NY 7,266 1,327 18%
Queens, NY 3,118 508 16%
Newark, NJ 4,990 803 16%
Ponce, PR 1,260 182 14%
San Juan, PR 5,374 371 7%
Mayaguez, PR 904 41 5%
New York Screening Unit 420 0 0%
Philadelphia Region 74,289 12,149 16%
Philadelphia-E, PA 4,522 1,154 26%
Pittsburgh, PA 4,544 1,057 23%
Philadelphia, PA 4,844 1,031 21%
Elkins Park, PA 5,384 1,105 21%
Washington, D.C. 2,476 471 19%
Baltimore, MD 4,732 812 17%
Morgantown, WV 3,463 558 16%
Harrisburg, PA 5,647 903 16%
Johnstown, PA 2,772 421 15%
Cranberry, PA 4,644 705 15%
Roanoke, VA 3,978 589 15%
Wilkes-Barre, PA 4,798 709 15%
Dover, DE 2,239 321 14%
Norfolk, VA 3,194 455 14%
Richmond, VA 3,514 460 13%
Charlottesville, VA 2,849 337 12%
Huntington, WV 5,112 510 10%
Charleston, WV 5,577 551 10%
Atlanta Region 174,838 26,999 15%
Miami, FL 3,279 838 26%
Greensboro, NC 5,894 1,434 24%
Atlanta-N, GA 5,597 1,205 22%
Florence, AL 3,657 784 21%
Montgomery, AL 6,026 1,265 21%
Jacksonville, FL 6,454 1,271 20%
Charlotte, NC 6,990 1,308 19%
Mobile, AL 6,953 1,277 18%
Charleston, SC 4,923 895 18%
Raleigh, NC 6,954 1,157 17%
Nashville, TN 4,845 802 17%
Orlando, FL 5,662 914 16%
Fort Lauderdale, FL 7,381 1,188 16%
Columbia, SC 5,156 817 16%
Memphis, TN 5,506 844 15%
Tampa, FL 7,884 1,201 15%
Savannah, GA 4,856 724 15%
Jackson, MS 4,731 703 15%
Greenville, SC 6,618 935 14%
Birmingham, AL 8,908 1,244 14%
Middlesboro, KY 1,730 240 14%
Knoxville, TN 6,054 776 13%
Chattanooga, TN 6,036 748 12%
Atlanta, GA 10,132 1,192 12%
Paducah, KY 2,322 272 12%
Lexington, KY 5,606 652 12%
Louisville, KY 4,192 460 11%
Tupelo, MS 4,463 452 10%
Hattiesburg, MS 5,489 552 10%
Macon, GA 4,825 444 9%
Kingsport, TN 5,715 405 7%
Chicago Region 94,614 16,493 17%
Columbus, OH 4,569 1,166 26%
Grand Rapids, MI 4,705 1,110 24%
Dayton, OH 2,871 655 23%
Oak Park, MI 6,058 1,336 22%
Detroit, MI 5,515 1,189 22%
Oak Brook, IL 5,036 1,074 21%
Cleveland, OH 6,702 1,317 20%
Cincinnati, OH 4,756 907 19%
Milwaukee, WI 5,211 985 19%
Flint, MI 3,667 657 18%
Lansing, MI 3,719 644 17%
Minneapolis, MN 7,678 1,196 16%
Chicago Video Center 899 132 15%
Indianapolis, IN 5,665 827 15%
Peoria, IL 3,927 552 14%
Chicago, IL 4,994 687 14%
Evanston, IL 5,238 673 13%
Madison, WI (Satellite) 965 108 11%
Orland Park, IL 5,754 627 11%
Evansville, IN 3,082 319 10%
Fort Wayne, IN 3,232 332 10%
Chicago Regional Office Staff 2 0 0%
Chicago Screening Unit 369 0 0%
Dallas Region 89,058 12,528 14%
Metairie, LA 3,978 820 21%
New Orleans, LA 5,319 962 18%
Dallas-N, TX 7,199 1,162 16%
Little Rock, AR 7,649 1,205 16%
Dallas-DT, TX 6,960 1,026 15%
Houston, TX 5,473 796 15%
Houston-DT, TX 4,915 707 14%
Alexandria, LA 6,209 885 14%
Shreveport, LA 4,688 659 14%
Fort Smith, AR 3,054 410 13%
Tulsa, OK 5,628 752 13%
Fort Worth, TX 4,996 643 13%
McAlester, OK 1,305 151 12%
San Antonio, TX 9,120 1,050 12%
Oklahoma City, OK 6,648 720 11%
Albuquerque, NM 5,683 580 10%
Dallas Regional Office Staff 208 0 0%
Dallas Screening Unit 26 0 0%
Kansas City Region 31,463 7,216 23%
Kansas City, MO 5,275 1,780 34%
Omaha, NE 2,475 585 24%
Creve Coeur, MO 6,621 1,449 22%
Wichita, KS 4,732 1,033 22%
Springfield, MO 2,611 562 22%
St. Louis, MO 6,125 1,248 20%
West Des Moines, IA 3,624 559 15%
Denver Region 17,675 2,673 15%
Denver, CO 5,232 1,007 19%
Colorado Springs, CO 3,359 548 16%
Billings, MT 2,809 437 16%
Salt Lake City, UT 3,541 385 11%
Fargo, ND 2,734 296 11%
San Francisco Region 65,476 10,461 16%
Los Angeles-DT, CA 3,842 904 24%
Downey, CA 2,543 585 23%
Pasadena, CA 2,561 545 21%
Los Angeles-W, CA 3,845 803 21%
San Diego, CA 3,229 656 20%
Oakland, CA 3,289 564 17%
San Bernardino, CA 4,647 776 17%
Las Vegas, NV 1,588 250 16%
Orange, CA 3,895 596 15%
Long Beach, CA 4,022 592 15%
Phoenix, AZ 5,029 704 14%
San Jose, CA 2,763 376 14%
San Francisco, CA 3,777 508 13%
Stockton, CA 3,426 456 13%
Sacramento, CA 5,724 741 13%
Santa Barbara, CA 1,639 212 13%
Fresno, CA 3,695 473 13%
Tucson, AZ 2,976 370 12%
San Rafael, CA 2,282 270 12%
Honolulu, HI 701 80 11%
San Francisco Screening Unit 3 0 0%
Seattle Region 17,940 2,677 15%
Seattle, WA 7,990 1,402 18%
Eugene, OR 2,660 389 15%
Portland, OR 4,061 556 14%
Spokane, WA 3,229 330 10%
Commissioner of Social Security
Office of Management and Budget, Income Maintenance Branch
Chairman and Ranking Member, Committee on Ways and Means
Chief of Staff, Committee on Ways and Means
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Social Security
Majority and Minority Staff Director, Subcommittee on Social Security
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Committee on the Budget, House of Representatives
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives
Chairman and Ranking Minority, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations,
House of Representatives
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Finance
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Social Security Pensions and Family Policy
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Senate Special Committee on Aging
Social Security Advisory Board
Overview of the Office of the Inspector General
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is comprised of an Office of Audit (OA), Office of Investigations (OI), Office of the Counsel to the Inspector General (OCIG), Office of External Relations (OER), and Office of Technology and Resource Management (OTRM). To ensure compliance with policies and procedures, internal controls, and professional standards, the OIG also has a comprehensive Professional Responsibility and Quality Assurance program.
Office of Audit
OA conducts financial and performance audits of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) programs and operations and makes recommendations to ensure program objectives are achieved effectively and efficiently. Financial audits assess whether SSA’s financial statements fairly present SSA’s financial position, results of operations, and cash flow. Performance audits review the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of SSA’s programs and operations. OA also conducts short-term management reviews and program evaluations on issues of concern to SSA, Congress, and the general public.
Office of Investigations
OI conducts investigations related to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement in SSA programs and operations. This includes wrongdoing by applicants, beneficiaries, contractors, third parties, or SSA employees performing their official duties. This office serves as liaison to the Department of Justice on all matters relating to the investigation of SSA programs and personnel. OI also conducts joint investigations with other Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies.
Office of the Counsel to the Inspector General
OCIG provides independent legal advice and counsel to the IG on various matters, including statutes, regulations, legislation, and policy directives. OCIG also advises the IG on investigative procedures and techniques, as well as on legal implications and conclusions to be drawn from audit and investigative material. Also, OCIG administers the Civil Monetary Penalty program.
Office of External Relations
OER manages OIG’s external and public affairs programs, and serves as the principal advisor on news releases and in providing information to the various news reporting services. OER develops OIG’s media and public information policies, directs OIG’s external and public affairs programs, and serves as the primary contact for those seeking information about OIG. OER prepares OIG publications, speeches, and presentations to internal and external organizations, and responds to Congressional correspondence.
Office of Technology and Resource Management
OTRM supports OIG by providing information management and systems security. OTRM also coordinates OIG’s budget, procurement, telecommunications, facilities, and human resources. In addition, OTRM is the focal point for OIG’s strategic planning function, and the development and monitoring of performance measures. In addition, OTRM receives and assigns for action allegations of criminal and administrative violations of Social Security laws, identifies fugitives receiving benefit payments from SSA, and provides technological assistance to investigations.