The Social Security Administration and its Office of the Inspector General (OIG) announced late last month that three new Cooperative Disability Investigations (CDI) Units recently opened across the country. As part of the nationwide CDI Program, the new units will identify, investigate, and prevent Social Security disability fraud throughout their respective states. The new CDI units opened in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Indianapolis, Indiana.
The CDI Program is one of Social Security’s most successful anti-fraud initiatives, contributing to the integrity of Federal disability programs. CDI brings together personnel from Social Security, its OIG, State Disability Determination Services (DDS), and local law enforcement agencies to analyze and investigate suspicious or questionable Social Security disability claims, to help resolve questions of potential fraud before benefits are ever paid. CDI Unit efforts help disability examiners make informed decisions, ensure payment accuracy, and generate significant taxpayer savings, for both Federal and State programs.
The CDI Program consists of 43 units covering 37 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Social Security and OIG have opened several offices in the last few years as they work together to provide CDI coverage for all 50 states by 2022, as mandated by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.
Since 1997, when Social Security and OIG established CDI, its efforts have contributed to $3.9 billion in projected savings to Social Security’s programs, and $2.9 billion in projected savings to other Federal and State programs. For more information, please visit the OIG website and Social Security’s anti-fraud website at www.socialsecurity.gov/antifraudfacts/.
Knowing what medical terms in medical records mean can be critical to your client’s Social Security disability claim. We recently had a case involving primarily back problems. The treating physician completed a medical source statement indicating that the claimant was experiencing pain at a level that would seriously interfere with the timely completion of job tasks. To support this, the doctor wrote, among other things, that his patient had an “abnormal gait.”
The Administrative Law Judge dismissed the doctor’s opinions, and found that the claimant was not disabled. In particular, the Judge found that the doctor could not be believed because the doctor’s own records repeatedly indicated that the patient did not have an “ataxic” gait.
We ended up appealing the case to Federal District Court, pointing out in our brief to the Court that the hearing Judge apparently did not understand the terms “ataxia” or “ataxic” gait. Ataxia is a neurological condition which describes a lack of muscle control or coordination, and usually is the result of damage to the part of the brain which controls coordination. An “antalgic gait,” on the other hand, is a limping gait adopted so as to avoid pain on weight-bearing structures. Therefore, a person can have an antalgic (abnormal) gait, and yet not have an ataxic gait.
The Court agreed, and reversed the decision of the hearing Judge on that basis.
Have you ever wondered what the best time is to start collecting Social Security –
should you do it as soon as you turn 62? Or, does it make more sense to wait until your
“full retirement age” (either 65, 66 or 67, depending on when you were born)? Or, are
you better off waiting until age 70?
There’s a big financial advantage for those who wait. For each year past your full
retirement age that you can put off applying for Social Security, your monthly check will
increase by 8 percent.
For example, let’s say you aim to retire next month at 62, having worked 40 years and
ending up with a final salary of $80,000. Your benefit would come to around $1,455 a
month, according to Social Security’s website. But if you could wait and keep working
until 66, your full retirement age, you’d get $2,074 a month. And, if you can wait till age
70, your benefit would be $2,833 — almost double the check you would get at 62.