Feb 15, 2016

Secret Law

     From Emergency Message EM-16006, issued by Social Security on February 12: 
To ensure consistent pooled trust reviews and pooled trust precedents across regions, we are providing further guidance to field office (FO) technicians, regional trust reviewer teams (RTRT), and regional trust leads (RTL) on reviewing pooled trusts and establishing pooled trust precedents in the Supplemental Security Income Trust Monitoring System SharePoint Repository for Precedents (SSITMS SharePoint). ...

IMPORTANT: Do not share copies of trust precedents, Regional Chief Counsel (RCC) opinions and other materials in the SSITMS SharePoint precedent file with the public, attorneys, or non-SSA personnel. The only publicly available precedents are available in the PS section of Program Operations Manual System (POMS) on our website. ...
     The agency has established a repository of precedents that it refuses to share with the public. Does anybody else find this inappropriate? Is this consistent with the principle of open government?

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

No. Whenever an attorney gets wind of a way to circumvent the trust provisions to get someone with a million dollars SSI, it mucks up the system!!!

Anonymous said...

Yes it is inappropriate. Will NOSSCR or NADR be filing a FOIA Request or bring an action to obtain these

Anonymous said...

It is not routine practice to share precedent files with the public and it is a conflict of interest for agency employees to assist Trust Administrators and other representatives with writing language that allows the agency to exclude a trust for SSI purposes -- which is what many employees are asked to do.

Anonymous said...

Social Security is a Star Chamber. They just make up their own rules as they go along.

Anonymous said...

I think we need more info on exactly what the trust precedent files entail. Not necessarily the actual numbers... but what they are? how they are used? how they effect claimants? etc

but anything that if there is anything that is deliberately being hidden from the public, the reasons for that should be examined closely.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't SSA employees contact their Senators or Congressional reps when they believe that their managers are doing something illegal or contrary to the public trust? Or when they feel that SSA management is ordering them to do something illegal or contrary to the public trust? There is no law against notifying someone in Congress about improper conduct by SSA management. Although SSA management seems to prefer keeping its problems behind closed doors & "all in the family," unfortunately it's akin to a huge dysfunctional family that often needs outside intervention.

Anonymous said...

Star chamber is the new "100k feds." And the point makes even less sense than the prior one.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting the agency has regulations about submitting all relevant evidence but that it appears the agency is trying to hide information from the public.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't this fall under the "attorney's (the Regional Counsel) advise to his client (SSA)" is privileged information clause" and not subject to disclosure? Believe me - the honest among you would not use this to game the system but I cannot tell you how many times I was asked to review proposed WC settlements to see if the terms would avoid WC offset or to "make an exception" for this one special client in reviewing various other documents.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of POMS sections designated "sensitive" that aren't on the public website and staff is not allowed to give them to the public. So this is nothing new.

Anonymous said...

SSA demands, under penalty of law, that those claimants and their reps disclose privileged information inside of a claim for benefits, but understands privilege well enough to claim it for SSA's own purposes to deny benefits in a way that the public cannot verify or even inquire. SSA's transparency is a one way mirror.

Anonymous said...

You're supposed to be an attorney, have you heard of attorney work product? Cmon.

Anonymous said...

9:12 It is, at best, specious for an Agency that administers a non-adversarial program to hide rules and then claim attorney privilege.

Johnny Cash said...

I wonder what SSA's position would be in a case relating to whether a particular trust still allowed for receipt of SSI benefits and the claimant obtained an opinion from an attorney as to the trust. Would the claimant be able to claim work product or would this fall into then "relates" category and require disclosure.

Anonymous said...

1:57 PM, February 15, 2016, stated, "Shouldn't SSA employees contact their Senators or Congressional reps when they believe that their managers are doing something illegal or contrary to the public trust? Or when they feel that SSA management is ordering them to do something illegal or contrary to the public trust? There is no law against notifying someone in Congress about improper conduct by SSA management. Although SSA management seems to prefer keeping its problems behind closed doors & "all in the family," unfortunately it's akin to a huge dysfunctional family that often needs outside intervention."

As a long term dedicated SSA employee, the answer is a resounding, "yes." However, I did this, was illegally forced out the door, and despite investigations corroborating my allegations, there has been no accountability for more than 2 years and counting now. In fact, SSA has overtly refused to hold those who engaged in illegal misconduct responsible or accountable in any way. Moreover, many of those who engaged in illegal misconduct received huge bonuses, promotions and/or long periods of paid Administrative leave over the past few years. Guess who requested and was denied any form of paid Administrative leave, not to mention other types of paid emergency leave in the CBA?

Major cover-up by those at the highest levels in the Agency - you bet.

Is outside intervention necessary - ASAP.

Anonymous said...

If SSA employees are aware of inappropriate management actions, they should be reporting it to the Senators and Congressional reps who are responsible for oversight. If employees fear illegal retaliation (which seems to be common at SSA), at least make an anonymous report. Someone on the Hill will bite if reports are compelling and plausible enough. See something? Then, say something!

Anonymous said...

https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0501120202

Not sure they were trying to hide its existence.

Anonymous said...

here we go now secret rules that are designed to stop benefits from being approved how nice isnt it? who is going to a courtroom anyone?