- DISABILITY CLAIM FAQ
In New York, the Division of Disability Determinations of the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (“OTDA”) decides if the medical evidence supports an application for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits. If the OTDA believes that the claimant’s medical information is unavailable or insufficient, then the OTDA can pay for a consultative examination (“CE”). The Social Security rules and regulations clearly state that a claimant’s treating doctor is the preferred source for a CE, which Administrative Law Judges reluctantly admit.
Even though I submit medical tests, functionality opinions, and clinical records, when I file SSD applications, the OTDA almost without exception sends notices for my clients to go for a CE by IMA Disability Services. IMA Disability Services, which has also gone by the name Industrial Medicine Associates, is part of The IMA Group (collectively, ”IMA”).
Why are claimants always told to go to IMA when the rules and regulations clearly state that the treating physicians are the preferred sources for CEs? Why are claimants told they have to go to IMA CEs in virtually every case? I represent a 59 year old bricklayer whose SSD benefits were paid today two months after I filed his application, even though the OTDA sent two letters stating that it was “necessary” for him to be examined by an unnamed doctor from IMA. Obviously, the CE was not necessary.
The OTDA is supposed to issue three year contracts for performing CEs through a competitive bidding process. David Pulver, the President of IMA, gave a private cocktail party and fundraiser for Alan Hevesi while he was Comptroller. The Comptroller and Attorney General are supposed to review the CE contract process, and the fundraiser occurred when IMA’s contract was pending review at Hevesi’s office. Alan Hevesi plead guilty to unrelated corruption charges, and was sentenced to 1-4 years on April 15, 2011.
As of 2009, IMA held the contracts for performing CEs in 12 of the 13 regions in the State, and now apparently holds all 13, even though a State investigation revealed that IMA engaged in a practice of improperly altering and submitting documents to OTDA in connection with its bids for CE contracts, as well as other improprieties. How much does the OTDA pay IMA annually? Certainly, IMA has a great incentive to retain its monopoly.
The money that goes to IMA comes from our taxes. It would seem that anyone interested in preventing the wasting of tax revenues would want to ask a lot of questions about IMA CEs. Since the State found that there was no undue influence behind the OTDA issuing contracts to IMA, why, as noted above, are claimants reflexively sent for IMA CEs when they are in fact not necessary? Even if a CE is necessary, why does the OTDA insist that IMA perform the exam when many claimants’ doctors would conduct the CE without cost to the taxpayer? How much do we actually pay IMA in total each year for CEs? How much would we save if the OTDA only sent claimants for a CE when they were actually necessary, and then to treating doctors?Previous Next
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