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February's Monthly Rant

by David R. Bryant


SOCIAL SECURITY HAS TRIED TO automate the disability determiantion process for a long time. The main reason for automating was to cure the long delays between application and a decision. In 1994, the time delay was 155 days and termed "a crises" dating back to "the late 80's".

Management, Frank W. Reilly, gave the States six baseline automation requirements back in May, 1990. By August, 1992, the "Modernized Disability System" for electronic input of client/medical/vocational information was to reside on the IWS/LAN (Intelligent Work Station/Local Area Network) of 60,000 PC's to replace the mainframe computers and 30,000 dumb terminals. Has anyone seen those terminals?

[See: Testimony + Written Statements at Hearings (4/14/94) before the Subcommittee on Social Security…103d Cong 2d Sess Washington. USGPO 1994, Ser 103-81 (pp 71-79, 188-189).]

Yet the rush to modernize has created opportunities for game playing in the statistical areas. The whole re-engineering process is premised on a single manager of a complete and accurate claim file. BAD premises since that file is a dream.

In ancillary computer areas, Social Security has done a comparable job of holding up mirrors of "what we're gonna do but blowing smoke with conditional "ifs". The Index of Disabling Impairments (where did that go?); applying the ADA to SSA/DIB claimants? ; O-Net to replace the DOT? (Looks good on paper!!); acquiescence? (See: Marbury v. Madison); PEBES? (Good idea, but who thought through the Privacy issues when putting info on the Internet?); the Texas DDS fiasco? (withdrawing approval AFTER States spend boucoup bucks).

But those are all small potatoes when compared with the year 2000 crises. The millions of lines of software code were created in the past with only 2 digit spaces for the year. My birthday is 3/21/39. Yet I cannot get an informed computer generated Date Last Insured since the five years extended insurance from 1997 goes to 2002 plus. The calculations must be done by hand. I will be 62 in 2001 and eligible for early retirement. Yet the computer records of SSA will show 1901 internally and therefore I will be ineligible for benefits. True or not?

Because SSA depends on State DDS (54) operations, each State must be on line and operational for the year 2000. Although SSA is a federal leader in compliance, the States are not all lined up.

Illinois uses Versa (Toronto, Canada) software, BDDS disability software (Versa) must convert instructions to be 2000 compliant and develop appropriate bridges to maintain integrity. The Illinois Department of Public Aid, (liens) the Illinois Department of Corrections (i.e. jailed SSI/DIB entitlements), the Illinois Department of mental Health (Rep Pay Status), the Illinois Industrial Commission (WC/Offset) all interact with Social Security disability issues. These State level agencies mesh with Township aid offices; County jails, Regional educational facilities and countless other governmental units.

Howard Conard is the internal point person for the Draft Illinois DDS Plan which was submitted to Mike Nolan of Region V Systems Staff (312-575-6257) in January, 1998. The State has been promised 500 to 700 PC's which are year 2000 ready for March or April 1999 delivery. These should replace existing dumb terminals in DDS. (No jokes please)

Howard Conard, since he is the DDS Coordinator, also works with the Secretary of DHS on the Year 2000 Committee for Statewide compliance under DMS, as well as the Commissioner of SSA.

If you want a copy of the Illinois BDDS Draft Plan, send your Fax telephone number to drbryant@ais.net. All constructive comments will be welcome. Do you have any experiences with computer glitches by SSA? Let me know.

- David R. Bryant

SEVERE
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