Jan 20, 2017

Berryhill Replacing Colvin

     Carolyn Colvin is no longer Acting Commissioner of Social Security. She has been replaced by Nancy Berryhill. If you are suing the Social Security Administration, you would now sue Berryhill rather than Colvin. If you already have a suit pending against Colvin, you don't have to do anything. This situation is addressed in §25(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure:
Public Officers; Death or Separation from Office. An action does not abate when a public officer who is a party in an official capacity dies, resigns, or otherwise ceases to hold office while the action is pending. The officer's successor is automatically substituted as a party. Later proceedings should be in the substituted party's name, but any misnomer not affecting the parties’ substantial rights must be disregarded. The court may order substitution at any time, but the absence of such an order does not affect the substitution.

The Sleep Of Reason Produces Monsters

Jan 19, 2017

Berryhill To Be New Acting Commissioner

From: ^Commissioner Broadcast
Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2017 9:38 AM
Subject: Announcement - New Acting Commissioner

To: All SSA and DDS Employees

Subject: Announcement - New Acting Commissioner

In my farewell message last week, I let you know that I advised the President that I will be leaving my position as Acting Commissioner at the end of his term on January 20th.  Upon my departure, Nancy Berryhill, Deputy Commissioner for Operations (DCO), will serve as Acting Commissioner based on the Agency's succession plan.  I have worked closely with Nancy for many years and have the utmost respect for her as a leader.      

Nancy has a distinguished career of over 40 years with SSA.  Prior to assuming the position of DCO, she was the Regional Commissioner of the Chicago region. Nancy has held numerous management and technical positions in SSA.  Her work and achievements consistently demonstrate professional excellence, exceptional leadership, integrity, and commitment to public service.

Please join me in wishing Nancy well as she becomes Acting Commissioner of Social Security. 

Carolyn W. Colvin
Acting Commissioner

What Do You Think?

Jan 18, 2017

No More Discipline For Refusing To Watch LGBT Video

     From WDWS:
A Social Security Administration employee who feared for his job after refusing in June to watch a required workplace-diversity video about the LGBT community has not been disciplined any further and thinks the outcome of the presidential election may have played a part in that.
David Hall, 42, of Tolono said he believes President-elect Donald Trump's win in November is partly why no punishment followed a two-day August suspension without pay for his continued refusal to watch the video, which he believes violates his religious beliefs. ...
Since then, Hall said, another agency employee in Iowa became aware of him through media coverage and contacted him, saying he had also refused to watch the video.
But, as Hall understands it, that employee's bosses didn't indicate the video was mandatory and didn't discipline him at all. ...

Jan 17, 2017

Regs On Evaluation Of Medical Evidence On Hold

     On January 5 the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) cleared Social Security's packet of final regulations changes on the evaluation of medical evidence. Ordinarily, once regulations are approved by OMB, they're published in the Federal Register within a few days but these final regulations have still not appeared in the Federal Register. I think it's unlikely that these will be published at this time. If they were published, the incoming Trump administration would probably prevent them from coming into effect until they could be reviewed. These regulations may end up exactly the same after they're reviewed but it may be many months until that review is complete.
     Update: I spoke too soon. These will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow. However, this may make little difference. These regulations cannot come into effect until 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. The new President is likely to issue an order preventing any new regulation from coming into effect until it has been reviewed by the new administration.

Jan 15, 2017

Representing Social Security Disability Claimants Is Just A Laughfest

     This happened some years ago. A client told me about being in the emergency room several times recently with chest pain so I wrote to request the emergency room reports. The reports came in. The client had not been admitted. The chest pain seemed to be esophagitis. In case you don't know, esophageal pain is quite common and it can seem very, very much like angina. It sometimes seems to me that everyone eventually ends up in the emergency room because of esophagitis.
      There was another emergency room report that I wasn't expecting concerning a different problem. My client wanted help removing a vibrator that was stuck up his anus. Seriously. A little experimentation with the help of his girlfriend according to the report. We respect our clients but we got a chuckle out of that one until we got a call later that day saying that the client had just died of a heart attack. Seriously.

Jan 14, 2017

How Did He Get Away With It For So Long?

     From the AP:
A former Tampa Bay area postal employee faces up to 15 years in federal prison for stealing more than $2 million in Social Security checks.
A U.S. Attorney's Office news release says jurors found 48-year-old Stacy Darnell Mitchell guilty Wednesday of theft of government property and theft of mail. His sentencing date hasn't been set.
Mitchell was a mail handler for more than 15 years at the processing and distribution center in St. Petersburg. Authorities say Mitchell stole more than 3,000 Social Security benefit checks from the facility from January to October 2012. The checks were sold and cashed at various convenience stores and check cashing businesses.