Jun 30, 2016

An Opinion On eBB

     Below is a comment posted on this blog concerning the Electronic Bench Book (eBB) for drafting Social Security Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) decisions that I think deserves more attention:
Blogger David Hatfield said...
This should have been a classic case of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", but some just could not leave well enough alone. FIT [Forms Integrated Template] was designed by a handful of users from the hearings operation. Decisions were made by me, an ALJ, with input from users. Then Commissioner Barnhart saw the wisdom of allowing adjudicators to create their own tools, and she gave me full decision authority to make it happen. It was done by users for users. Expenses were virtually zero, utilizing the amazing talents of SSA's DGS [Digital Government Strategy] staff. We created the system in less than a year, and by the following year almost every decision was written in FIT and it was embraced by almost every ALJ. Why? It saved folks time, and led to better written decisions. ALJs liked it because the quality of drafts increased, allowing the ALJs to hear and decide more cases instead of editing drafts all day. Decision writers liked it as the prompts inside the templates gave them a virtual GPS, saving them time and reducing errors. Perhaps most importantly it allowed for flexibility and did not impede the huge process of hearing and deciding cases. We never had to mandate its use, as users wanted it. We made modifications based on user input, and everything we did was with the user in mind. We were not concerned with data mining, or production of management reports. FIT was all about making the adjudication process better in quantity and quality. We built in SmartFIT features that eliminated obvious errors, such as not allowing a favorable decision to be written when the date last insured expired before the established onset date, or not allowing a case to be denied when the medical/vocational Grid directed a conclusion of disabled.
True, FIT was and is just a WORD product. But when the agency was looking at a web-based system, it could have easily converted FIT. We urged that. But some thought the hearing level could be converted to the eCAT system that was being designed for the DDS. We tried to convince folks that while the polices at the levels are the same, the adjudicative operations are very different. FIT "fit" the hearings operation. I thought they were listening. eBB was then created, and I, along with a colleague, sat down with a big group of people, none of them hearings operation employees, attempting to guide them toward FIT. However, unlike FIT, eBB had many masters and agendas, each wanting features to serve their own purposes (eg, data mining), or who still wanted elements of eCAT at the hearings level. The primary purpose of creating an adjudicative tool was frustrated. It was clear decisions had been and were being made behind the scenes. As a result, 4 years and a lot of money expended later, eBB is still struggling. It is a case of too many cooks in the kitchen, with many of them never having cooked a meal.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Right you are, David. Build from the bottom up = success. Impose from the top down...not so much.

David Hatfield said...

Just to correct the record, the re-posting of my comment (which I appreciate) contains a couple of errors. The explanation of the acronyms in my post are not accurate (they were inserted by someone other than me). FIT stands for Findings Integrated Templates and DGS stands for Document Generation System.

Anonymous said...

Its important to separate FIT into FIT writing instructions and FIT templates for the DGS. The FIT templates are still used by everyone and obviously save tons of time and everyone likes them.

HQ would say the FIT instructions were broken and needed fixing. FIT instructions lacked those check boxes and drop down menus that OAO wanted for data mining purposes. There will always be a struggle between line employees and management. Specifically, employees not wanting to be micro-managed and tracked. However, HQ is heavily invested in and believes "Big Data" analysis is critical in the future of the program. OAO wants all the data they can get so they can integrate it into their electronic text readers to weed out "likely errors" all of this was detailed in AAJ Gerald Ray's law review article. EBB is essentially the Appeals Council's ARPS tool, which has significant data collection capabilities, for the hearing operation. ARPS was widely accepted in OAO and they feel that it helps their workload. They assumed an EBB corollary in the field would go over well too. They forgot that the AC is more conducive to change because the employees are generally more management friendly in HQ and lack the statutory protections the ALJs have in the field.

http://www.gwlr.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/83-Geo-Wash-L-Rev-1575.pdf

The idea that its all top down and everyone at the top has never cooked a meal is bogus. Judge Bice and Alan held hearings in hearing offices for years. I always hear this argument on these sites and I don't understand it.

David Hatfield said...

10:40 am - I'm all for data mining as long as it doesn't interfere with the adjudication process. The main focus of SSA's administering the disability program should be on processing cases on a timely basis, and if data mining frustrates that fundamental purpose, then there needs to be a shift in focus. If an instruction gets so cumbersome and slows adjudications down, an ALJ will not use it (veteran or newbie). And this is not an ALJ issue. Any adjudicator wants to do his or her job as effectively and efficiently as possible. As I said before, there must be flexibility so that people can do their jobs. As for the FIT templates, when people started working on eBB, FIT maintenance essentially stopped. As a result there are templates that have not been updated. So, while the templates are still being used, HQ decided to shift its focus to developing a program that few use and not maintain the program that everyone uses. Worst of both worlds. As for cooks, I was not referring to Judge Bice or Judge Allen but rather the developers of eBB and the decisions made by managers not affiliated with hearings. Finally, I disagree with the notion that HQ employees are different than hearings office employees because of the "statutory protections the ALJs have". The non-use of eBB has nothing to do with statutory protections. It is about providing adjudicators tools that help them do their jobs more efficiently, not tools that frustrate that desire.

Anonymous said...

@10:40AM,

So, in part, you believe effective management of line employees requires micromanagement and tracking?

This one assertion alone clearly shows you are clueless about how line employees should be managed, or how to effectively manage in general. Employees, especially professionals with advanced degrees, such as attorneys and ALJ's, abhor micromanagement and tracking.

Personally, I cannot stand or tolerate it. I have worked at ODAR nearly 3 decades, and I have absolutely no problem saying YOU ARE THE PROBLEM - NOT THE SOLUTION.

This is indisputably top down management, and demonstrates what happens when you have cooks in the kitchen who have never cooked a meal.

Two ALJ's in the Ivory tower there at the top hardly qualifies as adequate representation of what's going on with line workers across the board. Moreover, there is little doubt they have the independence to disagree with Agency top officials who are obstinately moving forward with what they want regardless of what they think.

Don't flatter yourself. Do us all a favor and get out of the tower/kitchen.

Anonymous said...

I'm not flattering myself, I'm providing an opinion as to what I believe their line of thinking is in adopting the policies they adopt because I don't believe their goal is to either slow the process, reduce quality or frustrate employees. Rather, I believe they would argue that EBB does not significantly slow the process for many people and even if it did the added time at the hearing level better ensures policy compliance, improves quality and reduces remands saving ODAR time and resources overall reworking the same case.

Anonymous said...

@12:09PM,

I suspect your interpretation of "Their" thinking is correct. Here's the thing - "Their" thinking is seriously flawed.

EBB does slow the hearing process; it frustrates the he!! out of employees, especially decision writer's and ALJ's; it markedly slows processing time; it does nothing to assure policy compliance that FIT did not already do; it does not improve quality beyond what FIT already does - In fact, I would argue the opposite in that it bogs ALJs and decision writer's with instructions that are too detailed and cumbersome, which stymies flexibility necessary for great decision writing; and it has not changed the number of Remands.

Moreover, the excessive micromanagement and tracking has destroyed any sense of professionalism in the workplace; lowered morale among all employees; usurped the enjoyment and challenge I once enjoyed about my job, and which motivated me to a job I detest, hate and resent; and frankly, the tracking gives me the ebee geebes - it signals to me an employer who distrusts me, and manages via a system of punishment and favorites.

Employees, especially attorney decision writer's and ALJ's, require flexibility to perform our work. I motivated myself to write decisions for nearly three decades by viewing each case as a challenge with new facts, laws/regs/rulings, and approach the writing of the decision intuitively and creatively, but still within the overall FIT template. You have now taken away the flexibility I had in my job, or which I utilized to motivate me day in and day out, and tried to mold me into an automaton. I cannot work in this manner.

TruthBtold said...

@10:40

While Judge Allen may have held hearings, he has always had higher aspirations from the start. Despite coming from a claimant rep background, it didn't take long to see that quickly became a yes man for whatever the COSS was selling at the time. Since heading off into the Ivory Tower, it has only become more clear. So if your point is that eBB must be a good tool because Judge Allen approves of it and he was an ALJ in the field at one time, I think that argument needs to be examined more critically.

Anonymous said...

@1255

You don't need to quote their as if I'm the commissioner in disguise or something. Some of yall are really boisterous. I'm just a random AA in a hearing office. EBB instructions help me write quicker and make my job easier that's all I can really say concretely. I prefer to write for the ALJs in my office that use EBB. But my preference is certainly not worth 25 million dollars and typed FIT instructions are largely workable depending on the ALJ. I don't know how much more time it takes them. The rest I deduce from what the higher ups publish about the system. I don't know the value of the data mining they get from EBB. Whether there is enough value in program or if it is just pork for the bodies in Systems and the statisticians in OAO is an open question I suppose.

There is no question that the component has moved to a more data driven central management position, this aint your daddys OHA office anymore.

Anonymous said...

btw, dude, don't work a job you detest hate and resent YOLO life is short

Anonymous said...

@1:42PM,

I did not quote "Their" to intimate you are the Commissioner or other top official, but just the opposite,ie, to differentiate that you are not one of them.

Your remarks, "This is not your Daddy's OHA anymore," has no basis in fact or reality. When OHA became ODAR, nothing changed in terms of what is done. Moreover, to suggest it was my "Daddy's" OHA and there was no accountability is ludicrous.

As as Attorney-Advisor, I suspect you have not been writing decisions for nearly three decades. I can assure you flexibility is necessary in order to motivate oneself as years go by.

Further, just because it appears the component had moved to a more data driven central management position, (your words), does not mean it has to remain this way, or that management within cannot be improved and more effective. What we have now is a bunch of recalcitrant top officials who created a system with no real knowledge or experience within it, which is unprecedented in its dysfunction. The million plus backlog alone demonstrates this. Yet, they remain obstinate and refuse to seriously listen to those of us in the field.

It is my contention the make up of the bureaucracy at the top must change. Personally, I have never seen the Agency so dysfunctional over my near 3 decades.

Say what you want about the OHA years, the work got done well and without a lot of fanfare. We had top officials and managers then who, by and large, knew how manage a workplace and employees for optimum efficiency. This is NOT what we have now.

Anonymous said...

Judge Bice was a line ALJ for months, not years, then promoted to HOCALJ, then CALJ.

Anonymous said...

@ 2:20

I'm in North Carolina, and though I only have a little more than five years in at this point, I have seen a decent number of really old decisions from the OHA days thanks to good ol' Hyatt and its progeny.

Decisions from the 1980s, heck, even much more recent decisions before FIT/DGS was created, by and large were terrible.

Yeah, y'all were moving cases alright, but those decisions were short as all get out and didn't even articulate RFCs! (they simply would say the RFC was "a reduced range of ____ exertion" and then apply the relevant grid rule). Maybe the professionals enjoyed the environment better, but the work product, at least the final product, was not nearly as good as is produced now. Don't let nostalgia implant false memories in your brain ;)

Anonymous said...

@2:20PM,

Boy, you are really drinking the Agency Koolaid. Initially, I found your comment so undignified it is not worthy of a response.

Seriously, an Attorney-Advisor, a professional with an advanced degree, making such an across the board remark that ALL decisions written during the OHA years were seriously lacking based solely on your experience with the Hyatt cases you have seen. Frankly, you sound like a pompous, narcissistic a$$. A "Yes" person yearning to get the attention from those at the top in order to advance in your career with the Agency. Obviously, you would fit in well, never rock the boat, or suggest anything contrary to the latest 'gig' they are pushing.

For the record, your use of, "y'all," reflects poorly on you as a writer, even if it is only in comments made on a blog. Having read your remarks, you do not impress me as being a particularly outstanding, or exceptional, decision writer. You do impress me as having an over inflated ego.

Look, decision writers all vary in talent, attorney and non-attorney alike. This is just as true now as it was during the OHA years. Some decision writers are exceptional, while others are more seriously challenged.

Anonymous said...

WOW! Take a day off from the internet and miss all the fun.

Clearly there are some ageist sentiments that support EBB by the looks of some of the commentators here. Darlin, that includes you in North Caroline. However, you seem more of a straw man to me.

Data mining and micromanaging. Does anyone with even half a brain think that those two things will increase productivity?

Some one on this board (NC maybe)keeps asserting that our cases are not complex. Keep telling yourself that. You are the same person (people) who don't believe that the concept of due process is germane to the discussion or you give it slap dash treatment.

Judges Bice, Allen and Ray will do anything to preserve their power base.

Unless there is a real shake up at the top, we are doomed as an agency and I have no doubt that the disability process will be contracted out before too long.

Anonymous said...

Re: the NC commentator with only 5 years who trashes the earlier generation of ALJ decisions - was this person a new hire under Sklar? On a related subject, Is it true that Sklar once described himself as the "new sheriff in town" or was that just the impression he gave?

It's somewhat surprising that ODAR hasn't tried to shut this blog down. According to reliable sources, ODAR management in FC reads the blog and forwards certain comments (especially those that are unfavorable to ODAR management) by email to the upper management cadre.

Regarding eBB, isn't it connected to Gerald Ray's "data driven case processing" (DDCP) system, which some refer to as the voodoo du jour for curing ODAR of its inefficiencies? (Before DDCP, ODAR tried HPI, then DSI - improvements or failures?)

Finally, are employees and their work product just mere data in Gerald Ray's DDCP system?

Tim said...

12:58 AM Why not? Isn't that how they view the claimants? It wouldn't surprise me if Ray's ultimate goal is a system to replace DDS, AAs, ALJs, etc. with a computer system that will decide who is "disabled." His push towards "quality" seems designed to remove human judgment from the process. Unfortunately, defining disability is kind of like Potter Stewart's take on obscenity... "I know it when I see it!" Some see it when others don't. Sometimes it's obvious to everyone. Sometimes you only see it when you know what to look for. Sometimes you can't see it when all the clues are there.
I do find it to be telling that all the talk of "quality" is aimed at ALJs that are deemed to be "too lienient." The message seems to be "deny more" and not "approve the right claims."

Anonymous said...

I think policy says deny more. There is an element of I know it when I see it but policy says you can stand in front of me and I can see you look disabled as all get out but policy dictates a deny unless you have records to back it up. It has to be at least I know it when I see it and the records at least approach confirm what I'm seeing. If not, then you're just a lawyer providing mostly a medical opinion contrary to DDS doctors. There's got to be some new records.

Work product is a data point being collected. DITI and OAO would love to have computers read evidence and testimony and spit out a decision after a hearing. I can even envision a time when the judge just clicks a yes or no checkbox and a decision pops out... pop up box appears 'Judge your decision is inconsistent with the evidence... Proceed anyway yes/no" like when you send an e-mail without a subject.

If you are in your 30s or 40s and you think you are going to retire writing decisions, you're insane.

Anonymous said...

I can only dream that upper management reads this blog. If they do and they don't pay attention, then they are dopes. What we really need is for some ambitious and well placed congressional staffers to read it.

As for shutting it down, I think the first amendment would prevent that. As for the Federal employees who post here, they may have less protection based on some wacky case law (don't ask me to cite, go look it up) but that is why the first thing any federal employee should do before posting here is put the setting to anonymous before they even type a Word. Management may try to figure out who they are but I'm sure Charles would never let that data get out.

Anonymous said...

FIT and EBB are two entirely separate programs with different goals. FIT (Findings Integrated Template) helps an ALJ craft instructions and SCTs draft form letters.

EBB manages the entire process of file review, hearing, decision instructions and decision drafting.

To compare the two is silly

Anonymous said...

@ 11:31 pm, I have not posted this yet, so don't think I am simply reposting the same stuff.

SSA disability cases are NOT complex. The law we have to apply is miniscule and almost never changing. There are very few important federal cases and those that do exist are easy to interpret and can be covered with a few simple sentences. Disability decisions have 5 key steps that can be discussed in a few sentences/paragraphs each plus an RFC discussion. If you think that disability law is complex, I have to question your legal abilities.

Try bankruptcy, securities, criminal law, etc., etc. I am an attorney and have many friends who are attorneys. They would all kill to practice such a narrow area of law.

What about the disability process do you think is so complex?

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with 11:31.

Being an ALJ in SSA is an easy high paying job with nearly 0.0 percent chance of being fired. And to hear the complaints on this blog you would think these guys worked in 3rd world country coalmine. Waaa, they are making me use eBB, waaa, I have actually write instructions, waaa, they want me to schedule more, waaa, they want me to be more productive. And if you are offended by this, then prove me wrong by stop complaining and get to work.

Anonymous said...

@11:44AM,

You conveniently failed to indicate FIT, if nothing else, is an important decision writing tool, which is by far the most favored and embraced by decision writers and ALJ's alike. The Agency's futile failure to update it in order to force EBB down everyone's throats is not working, and this is amply demonstrated by the overwhelming numbers who continue to use FIT.

Anonymous said...

@12:15PM, first post at same time:

IT IS GREAT TO KNOW WE ARE GETTING UNDER THEIR SKINS AND THOSE,LIKE YOU,WHO CHOOSE TO DRINK THE AGENCY KOOLAID.

ISN'T IT INTERESTING THAT EVEN THOUGH OPM IS URGING AGENCIES TO ENCOURAGE AND ENGAGE IN EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT, THIS ONE, SPECIFICALLY ODAR AND SSA DISABILITY, NOT ONLY DISCOURAGES IT, BUT AGGRESSIVELY SEEKS TO PUNISH AND ILLEGLLY REMOVE EMPLOYEES WHO EVEN MINUTELY QUESTION WHATEVER THR SUBJECT du jour AT THE TIME IS.

IT'S ABOUT TIME FEATHERS BEGAN TO RUFFLE.

I CAN ASSURE YOU, CONGRESS MEMBERS AND THEIR STAFFERS ARE, INDEED, READING THIS BLOG.

Anonymous said...

lol I'm a koolaid drinking employee. You're not getting under my skin, I just think its sad that mgmt. can't fire you tomorrow because we don't need you. Most of my career was in the private sector, I'm used to at will employment. Law firms are pretty efficient. If you don't bill you're done. That's how it should be here, if you don't produce you're done. I think managers should be able to actually manage their employees. Employee should actually do what their told by managers or else hit the road. The managers are ultimately accountable for the program performance not line employees. And I think most Americans would agree with that approach.


The civil service and union 'protections' are from a generation ago. Most Americans can't relate to it and it contributes to their negative view of the federal workforce.

Anonymous said...

1152 and 1215 all I can say is that if you perform a decision making or decision writing job in odar and you don't think it's complex, then either you are incredibly simple minded or you are not doing your job.

Yes Yes bankruptcy personal injury litigation maritime law there are many many areas of law that are more complex than Social Security--again I would say that there is a staw man among us.

And yes it is only 5 Steps how hard could it be you ask and this is why I don't think you write or decide these cases as well as why I find it scary if you do. Within each step there are myriad number of requirements and issues that need to be decided.

The proof is in the pudding if this process was so simple would it require a code of federal regulations, hallex, POMS, guidance edicts up the gazoo, medical experts, vocational experts--cut it out. Your argument fails at the most basic level.

Anonymous said...

life is funny, I would say the same in opposite, if you think it's complex you either don't work in an odar office or have very limited private practice experience. Most of the regs address rare fact patterns. The vast majority of claims are very straight forward and substantially similar, that's why most judges bust out over 500 a year working 40 hours per week. In private practice most cases are different, fact patterns and black letter law are different.

All of the AA in my office are in pretty universal agreement that this is perhaps the most boring path a licensed attorney could take. We consciously make the choice to continue on for the work/life balance, we've seen the other side and we're largely happy about it.

Anonymous said...

Well 130, you sound like just the type management is looking for and that is why we are doomed.

Life is funny because it is my private practice experience that makes me cognizant of why these cases are so complex. I can't tell how many times I have seen a newbie rep just blow it because they don't know the rules of the game. Neither one of us is going to change our mind and I am still highly suspect of your credentials, but such is life.

Anonymous said...

I was the one that made the comment about older decisions being bad (Hyatt NC guy), not any of the other comments later attributed to me, and I can't believe I got the ire I did.

I wouldn't say all of our decisions these days are even good, or that the agency's efforts to ensure a good decision are wise or effective-- I am most definitely not an Agency kool aid drinker, lol--I was simply saying that the supposedly "things were 100% great and it was because we were left alone by mgmt." assertion is destroyed by just a cursory glance at the decision work product from that time.

As a side note, I am always just tickled pink when ALJs use every last shred of language, case law, etc. vis-à-vis the APA to demand all manner of protections for themselves, but bristle when told that they might need to make and explain the most basic legal determinations for their cases. Good stuff!

Anonymous said...

For those who think social security disability law is simple: you don't know what you don't know. There are numerous details which matter, starting with Date Last Insured, prior applications (possible reopenings), and protective filing dates. Most ALJs don't consider all the medical evidence (lack of time) which means SSA fails to accord due process. Each person's case needs individual consideration, which ODAR is not set up for.
As for employees, what do you expect an agency to think, when it calls people "human capital"?

Anonymous said...

Judge Hatfield,

You're one of the good guys from OHA/ODAR. As a judge, HOCALJ, acting Chief, instructor and entertainer, your contributions to the agency has been great. As one of my instructors in Baby Judge School, you've influenced my career for 20 years. I agree with your remarks about FITS. It made writers and judges more thoughtful. EBB does not make anyone more thoughtful but it does make them slower.




it

Anonymous said...

As a former DW I can see why people think this way. The job is not hugely complex but it is way tougher than it looks to crank out the volume of decisions required in the time alotted. The decisions are tough and cannot be taken lightly. I say this not because I seek sympathy but just know that the job is tougher than it appears from the outside.

Anonymous said...

EBB - If it does not Fit, you must (ac) quit!

Anonymous said...

Very few ALJs are using eBB because it does slow down the review of cases significantly. The newbie judges use it not because they are more computer literate, but because they are trained on eBB from the get go. However, what happens is after a few months on the job when their production is expected to increase, the newbies find they can't keep up using eBB. Personally, i prefer to craft handwritten notes when I review a file. I have tried eBB - typing or cutting and pasting, but writing my notes by hand just works better for me. I remember the details better. I craft my instructions by hand, but I use a multi-page form to help me cover the pertinent issues. I also use FITS to write instructions and that too keeps me on the right track. Whenever new technology is presented into the workforce, you get push back from employees. Some hated the transition from HOTS (hearing office tracking system) to CPMS (case processing management system), though the latter is clearly much better. The same, however, cannot be said for eBB. Despite the efforts of many good folks, eBB is a clunky failure and it should be abandoned.

Anonymous said...

With regard to the NC Commenter/Suspect Strawman, one cannot help but wonder if this may be related to ALJ Ollie Garmon, III, former ROCALJ who was promoted to Falls Church, VA, in 2015, but recently departed to be an ALJ in the Raleigh, NC, ODAR office. Wasn’t he being groomed to replace Judge Bice? Was this a short lived promotion? If so, why?

Anonymous said...

Judge Garmon would have been an interesting choice. He has his detractors, but don't we all. From my personal experience I would say that he knows how the world works and can be very reasonable. I for one think he would have been an innovative choice for Chief Judge and a welcome change from the current regime. However, I don't think that is why he was in falls church but I don't want to say more.

Anonymous said...

the FACT patterns of some SSA disability cases can be complex, but the law surrounding disability is incredibly limited.

I have to concur with some of the other posters. I write decisions daily and do so at a high rate (well over the 100% quota) and with high quality (as measured by AC agreement rate and ALJ comments). To argue that SSA disability is a "complex" area of law is just silly. It is an incredibly simple area. The tools provided by the agency let us quickly "shell" a decision that is legally sufficient and requires only minor tweaking to cover the occasional area that may not be covered by FIT.

Yes, ALJs and legal staff miss things like DLI, evidence and opinions, but these are VERY easy issues to spot and fix. Need an updated DLI, a 30-second query tells you. ALJ didn't address an opinion, summarize the opinion and give it appropriate weight. SCT missed some evidence or some other error...yes, you can complain about it, but typically the fix is easy.

Working at SSA (whether as a writer or ALJ) is EASY. The pay is OK. There is NO stress and you go home after 8 hours (or less with credit used) or take days off whenever you want. MOST of the writers I work with could work in other areas making more money. But on an hourly basis, we would lose out. We all get frustrated by how boring and easy the work is and often complain about the little mistakes that make the job nominally "difficult". HOwever, we all agree that the tradeoff of work-life balance makes up for the boring work and middling pay.

Anonymous said...

513, I have argued that it is complex but I think you make a very valid point. The law is the law and does not change much but the fact patterns can be very complicated and that is what can make writing these decisions very complex. I think some areas of the country the cases are more complex than others simply because of the medical care available. Yes it is a boring area of the law but the pay is decent and I think that is why most of us don't ever leave. However I don't think that knocking these cases out like widgets with quotas and time limits is the correct method. I think eventually that will result in more remands. But you make a very good point I think the answer is somewhere in the middle and I'm not sure how we get there in the morass that is odar

Anonymous said...

@5:13, July 3:

I shared many of your sentiments for during my 27+ years. I was also a high producer, my decisions were high quality, lots of compliments from ALJ's, and earned numerous QSI's and Performance Awards for several years. I also enjoy working with SSA DISABILITY law, which I think can be both complex or simple depending on the particular case.

Despite all of these things, I was illegally forced out the door for no good reason 3 years ago. I am the SA who recently commented about my situation. The point I am trying to make is bad things can and do happen to good people who work at ODAR.

Not every hearing office is all glamor and glitter, and those that are can change in an instant, such as when corrupt managers suddenly arrive, destroy the office with the support of top Agency officials, then bolt for other hearing offices. This is what happened in my hearing office, in addition to the other things I alluded to in earlier comments.

The top Agency officials who encourage, reward, and protect subordinate managers to engage in illegal Prohibited Personnel Practices, in some cases even criminal acts, must go, let alone being allowed power positions in the Ivory tower.

Some of you commenters are far to willing to cast a broad optimistic sweep over many issues, and that simply is not realistic. 25 years ago, I probably would have sounded similar. I would have never in my wildest dreams have thought I would be treated in such an undignified manner. I am just saying...

Anonymous said...

Judge Garmon? He presided over scandals as large as Huntington yet somehow remains unscathed. Judge Jennings' mulitple jobs, funneling cases to multiple 97% plus paying judges to pay down the back log, sending Judge McGrath on 100 case a week hearing office follies. As with many of the untouchable regional chiefs, he should have been run out of office on multiple fraud charges years a ago.

Anonymous said...

PS Judge Garmon stepped down to line Judge because the AALJ caught on to his attempt to gerrymander the relocation the Atlanta North office to just a few miles down the street from his house. Although he was supposed to be stationed in Falls Church, he swung a deal to be outstationed in the new Atlanta North office after it's move to Alpharetta. He even has an office labeled on the new floor plan. Unfortunately, now that his plan has been exposed, claimants and office staff have to drive the worst trafficked areas of atlanta to get to the office.

Anonymous said...

Interesting news about ALJ Garmin. He was one of the corrupt officials involved in my situation. In fact, as the ROCALJ, he authorized and signed off on the episodes of misconduct which took place. I am the commenter at 5:13PM, July 3, ie, the 27+ year SA illegally forced out my job.

Anonymous said...

PS, My comment was at 6:38PM, July 3, not 5:13PM.

Anonymous said...

Seattle RCALJ DeLaittre is like a regular line judge now. He is suing SSA. So far in fiscal year 2016 DeLaittre has issued a grand total of 83 dispositions.

Anonymous said...

PS, again:

The horrendous misconduct and scandal ALJ Garmin is responsible in the circumstances surrounding my situation alone would have exceeded any reasonable threshold to support removal and loss of law license, and seriously discipline for the highest Agency officials in the Ivory Tower from Colvin on down who initially promoted him to Falls Church with full knowledge of what he had done and engaged in a massive cover up to protect him and others responsible.

Demotion to line ALJ with a brand-new office marked with his name on it which he gerrymandered as his ONLY accountability given the entire circumstances surrounding my situation and hearing office over a period of several years is completely UNACCEPTABLE, not to mention any of the other high level officials who conspired to protect him and others. FYI, I will not rest or stop until there is much more accountability from those in the Ivory Tower on down through the entire chain of command.