Jul 12, 2016

Does This Address Real Problems?

     From a Notice of Proposed Rule-Making (NPRM)published in the Federal Register today by the Social Security Administration:
404.935 (a) ... Each party must make every effort to ensure that the administrative law judge receives all of the evidence and must inform us about or submit any written evidence, as required in Sec. 404.1512, no later than 5 business days before the date of the scheduled hearing. If you do not comply with this requirement, the administrative law judge may decline to consider or obtain the evidence unless the circumstances described in paragraph (b) of this section apply.
(b) If you have evidence required under Sec. 404.1512 but you have missed the deadline described in paragraph (a) of this section, the administrative law judge will accept the evidence if he or she has not yet issued a decision and you show that you did not inform us about or submit the evidence before the deadline because:
(1) Our action misled you;
(2) You had a physical, mental, educational, or linguistic limitation(s) that prevented you from informing us about or submitting the evidence earlier; or
(3) Some other unusual, unexpected, or unavoidable circumstance beyond your control prevented you from informing us about or submitting the evidence earlier. For example, the administrative law judge will accept the evidence if you show that:
(i) You were seriously ill, and your illness prevented you from contacting us in person, in writing, or through a friend, relative, or other person;
(ii) There was a death or serious illness in your immediate family;
(iii) Important records were destroyed or damaged by fire or other accidental cause; or
(iv) You actively and diligently sought evidence from a source and, through no fault of your own, the evidence was not received or was received less than 5 business days prior to the hearing. ...
404.938 Notice of a hearing before an administrative law judge.
(a) Issuing the notice. After we set the time and place of the hearing, we will mail notice of the hearing to you at your last known address, or give the notice to you by personal service, unless you have indicated in writing that you do not wish to receive this notice. We will mail or serve the notice at least 60 days before the date of the hearing...
404.949 Presenting written statements and oral arguments.
You or a person you designate to act as your representative may appear before the administrative law judge to state your case, present a written summary of your case, or enter written statements about the facts and law material to your case in the record. You must provide a copy of your written statements for each party no later than 5 business days before the date set for the hearing.
     This seems to me to be an attempt to blame the attorneys who represent Social Security claimants for the horrible hearing backlog. We're not to blame. It's the fault of the Congress which has failed to give the agency adequate operating funds. This sort of thing gives aid and comfort to those who would blame the victims of the backlog. Even taken at face value this proposal could address no more than the tiniest sliver of the backlog.
     I have often found that Social Security employees who have never been involved in obtaining evidence from claimants' medical sources haven't the slightest idea how difficult and time consuming this can be, nor how long it can take. Doctors and hospitals aren't standing around eager to hop on my request for medical records. They often sit on requests for weeks or months and ignore telephone calls urging them to act. They often invent bizarre excuses for failing to act, such as "This is a photocopied signature and we can't accept that" when the printed medical release was obviously signed in blue ballpoint ink. One of the biggest dodges is to demand that the patient sign the medical provider's own medical release. These medical providers refuse to accept medical releases designed to meet all legal standards. Only their medical release is good enough even though some of the provider medical releases fail to meet legal standards. Can you imagine how difficult this can be when an attorney is dealing with hundreds of medical practices and a dozens of hospitals? And I haven't even mentioned claimants who fail to communicate with their attorneys. Due to homelessness, poverty and mental illness many claimants lead highly disordered lives. It's hard to get them on the phone and when you do, it's hard to get information out of them. Every attorney who represents claimants will tell you tales of claimants who denied new medical sources in a phone call a month or two before a hearing but who then show up on the day of the hearing and tell the attorney about hospitalizations and new physicians that date back well before that phone conversation. Worse, some claimants simply disappear for months and then show up on the day of the hearing. I make diligent efforts to obtain medical evidence on my clients. I generally contact my clients, to the extent I can, two months prior to a hearing to update their medical records but sometimes the medical evidence still hasn't arrived by the date of the hearing. And, no, I'm not just starting to obtain medical evidence two months prior to the date of the hearing. That starts soon after the request for hearing. I'm talking about updates here. Administrative Law Judges want up to date medical records and so do I but it's a moving target. New medical records keep getting created.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

it's not about blaming the attorneys for the backlog, it's about working to get a decision issued without the fear of new evidence coming in.

At some point, the record needs to be closed, too many reps (for lots of reasons, both good and bad) turn in records after the hearing and drag out the process.

Anonymous said...

oh please

when you have a med mal trial, are you permitted to bring new records on the day of the trial, or submit them after the trial? didn't think so. so why are med mal attorneys able to obtain these elusive medical records in a timely manner, but poor whittle disability attorneys not?

oh. I see. that med mal trial has the potential for you the attorney to receive 10x to 100x in legal fees than one can receive in a disability claim. not to mention the FRE. there's nothing stopping you from driving to the elusive/annoying medical provider's office and photocopying the records if they won't submit them timely. cept for that little thing called, it's not worth your time/effort to do so.

Dan Smith said...

Well it's safe to say that late-submitted evidence is a "real problem". It certainly has a deleterious impact on administrative efficiency and further delays decisions that claimant's have already been waiting YEARS for.

The open question for me is whether a heavy-handed response (like my suggestion of cutting the fee for firms who fail to timely submit or notify) would do more harm than good. Personally I feel like claimants' reps in general need to seriously step up but I recognize as you stated that even with conscientious reps, there will still be situations where records will be incomplete at the hearing. I think it's safe to say that these regs weren't submitted in response to reps like Charles Hall. But if you oppose these measures, what recourse do you suggest for reps who repeatedly openly flout their responsibility to timely submit?

Anonymous said...

@11:31 there is a great deal stopping you if the medical provider's office stores their medical records off-site contracting with a third-party who requires all medical record requests be completed in triplicate and has a turn-around time of roughly 1-2 months plus mail time as they don't provide medical records via fax. This is assuming they acknowledge your request the first time and you want to present a complete medical record to the ALJ for consideration requiring medical records be updated to at least a month prior to the hearing.

These "services" are especially common in cheaper medical offices where SSI claimants are generally treated.

Anonymous said...

It appears you have neither practiced SS law or medmal.

What are attorneys to do about that MRI or hospital visit 2 weeks before the hearing.

Have you ever tried to get an ALJ to issue a subpoena for records? In a medmal case I can subpoena or depose a medical record provider to make them comply, not so in SS.

Drive to provider and copy the records? That must be satire. Do you really think that's how this works? With electronic records processed across the country or world? There is nothing to "copy" and if there was what makes you think the provider would allow this if they won't do it by mail? Excuse me nurse, let me sit down at your computer and copy my client's chart. An attorney who did that would either be called a lunatic or arrested for trespass.

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure the problem is records/visits that were completed within the few weeks leading up to the hearing. I agree that treatment is ongoing and therefore there is no real "end" date to apply. However, I think they are hoping to address the two years leading up to the hearing that contain no records until the day before the hearing or even the weeks after the hearing - the situation where the rep waits until the last minute to update two year's worth of treatment notes. It makes it harder to conduct a full hearing as well as delays things when cases sit afterwards to await those records.

Anonymous said...

ODAR could solve a lot of their own problems if they requested MER as DDS does. They'd be welcome to try to do it any better than us reps can. If DDS can do it why can't ODAR?

Anonymous said...

@ 1:49PM

At least in my state, the DDS does such a poor job of developing the record I wouldn't want to trust ODAR to do any better.

Anonymous said...

1. 1131 am, it sounds like you have no idea what goes on in trial cases, you sound like a typical Agency lawyer-basher

2. Is Dan Smith a real person or just an Agency straw man. Inquiring minds want to know.

3. As for the question why ODAR doesn't do a good or timely job of requesting MER, as an insider I can tell you that the clerks dont want to do it and the general Agency response is that if a claimant is represented at the hearing level, then there is no obligation for us to do it. The system is broken and it was broken on purpose. It is disgusting. Due Process? We don't need no stinking due process.

Anonymous said...

I do not think 5 days prior to the hearing is unreasonable. Thinking this will do anything to impact the backlog is, however, laughable. While it may shave a few days of the processing time, the ALJ will still have to deal with any post hearing submissions and rule on whether they should be considered under one of the exceptions. This would then just add another issue for appeals that the AC will have to address.

Anonymous said...

Charles, you operate a real law firm with direct contact with your employees and clients and represent them the way they deserve to be and the way a competent practicing attorney should. The problem is that these days the vast majority of claimants are not represented by small or even mid size law firms, they are represented by huge TV firms or non-attorney LTD affiliated practices. These places don't operate the way you do. Medicals come in when they come in, the contract attorney or associate (who usually won't be working there in another 3 months) has no idea what meds may have been ordered or if there is anything that the record should be left open for. In the last month, I have had to return 5 cases to writers for further drafting because additional medical records magically appeared in the file. The reps don't bother to ask for the record to be left open, they just send it in because they know we have to consider it and if we miss the fact it was submitted the day before I signed the decision (because, again, I had no idea it was coming) its an automatic remand. While there are at least some safeguards in place with the proposed regs to account for problem medical providers, you are certainly right there are a small percentage of ALJ's who simply won't consider anything that comes in after the deadline. However, I think the majority of ALJ's will be understanding when a competent attorney runs into issues in a particular case.

Anonymous said...

The whole process is A$$ backwards just like SSA. Both the Agency (via SAAs) and reps should hsve to certify that the record is complete before a hearing is scheduled, then impose the 5 day rule for the remaining period. Too simple and will never happen. But it could work.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I can see how ODAR would "fear" evidence coming in. God forbid that the truth would emerge. Wouldn't want disabled people to prove it, would we? And do you want to compare a Social Security hearing to a med mal case? Fine. Since you, as the ALJ, are my adversary in the real world, lets have a rule that gives me the right to depose you in advance of the hearing, and forbids you from relying on any evidence or rationale that you did not disclose to me in advance. Give me the right to cross-examine the "experts" who spend 15 minutes (reallly less) looking at the 1,500 pages of records you say I don't submit, and your CE doctors who claim normal results of tests they don't administer, and your coddled witnesses whose only expertise is saying what you want to hear. Show me that you don't engage in ex parte communication with witnesses by banning them from your presence when I am not present. Assist claimants whose sources resist providing records, or charge more than the claimant can afford. When you show some effort to have a level playing field, a genuine investigation into the truth, I'll drop my skepticism of your motives. Meanwhile, it looks like another attempt to prevent people who are disabled from proving it.

Anonymous said...

What if unanticipated evidence is adduced at hearing that creates a new issue that requires rebuttal evidence (e.g. agency vocational expert or medical expert gives incredible or false testimony). What's to stop an ALJ from saying sorry claimant, the record closed five days ago? Ditto if an ALJ raises a new unanticipated issue at the hearing that might require further development.

Claimants and reps have no effective way to compel medical sources to supply records between the time of a hearing notice and a hearing. SSA subpoenas are not enforced because no U.S. attorneys will act on violations, and there is no other enforcement mechanism for getting records that could work in a timely manner. SSA proposes setting a deadline to supply evidence, and then provides no genuinely compulsory means that claimants or reps can use to timely get the evidence.

Rules that make it possible for SSA to ignore relevant evidence of disability submitted before a decision are offensive to basic notions of justice and due process. The harm such rules do the Americans that SSA is charged with serving far outweighs any minor expediency or convenience to its employees. There are other ways of encourage early evidence submission that don't involve hurting the claimants.

Anonymous said...

YES IT WILL HELP A LOT! POST development is a large component of time wasted between hearing and getting a decision out of the door.

Tim said...

How about giving 90-120 days notice till the hearing instead of 20-30? I've waited 15 months since request for hearing and have no idea when my hearing will be. Also, would it really hurt SSA to let me know exactly WHAT they're looking for? DDS said they "have everything they need!" Then, they denied me twice. I have examined my records and can confidently say that people have been convicted of murder on less evidence! As for doctors, they all seem afraid to make any statement on someone's behalf. One even said when asked why not, "Because they (SSA) just ignore us, anyway!"
It may just be my impression, but SSA seems to be saying, "Deny, deny, deny, we don't really care why... It's deny season, use 'credability' if you have no reason... It's all 'bout numbers, not actual humans... 'Cause Congress' cuts are inhumane!
Please, tell me where I'm wrong!

Anonymous said...

@7:17

Ask any claimant what is more important: That the correct decision be made after careful consideration of all available evidence, or alternatively to get their decision a bit earlier without considering all the evidence in a manner that increases chances of a wrongful denial. I'll save you the time. In a vast majority of cases the claimants will choose the careful consideration of all available evidence.

This proposed change is not about doing what is good for the American public. It's about what's convenient for for hearing level staff and ALJs. Every job has duties which are inconvenient or difficult at times but people with fortitude do them anyway because it's the right thing to do. Creating a procedural rule that will enable ALJs to ignore relevant and available evidence of disability is the absolute worse kind of proposal. Getting it right becomes less important than making some decision, whether correct or not, at the earliest opportunity. The wrongfully denied claimants, of which there will be many more if the proposals are adopted, will be left to pay the price.

Anonymous said...

Getting it correct is no longer on the table, getting it kind of correct is now acceptable. The only things that matter is 5 pulled cases a day, 8&4 adnauseum, 50 hearings a month and 700 decisions a year. It is numbers numbers numbers all day everyday no one cares about the claimants anymore and if you happen to care about the claimants like I do you get harassed that is the honest truth and I am sure there are many other hearing office staff employee's judges whatever you want to call them that will back this up. It's disgusting.It is going to take a major scandal to change the trajectory that we are on now and frankly I don't think that's going to happen Congress wants to do us in conservatives want to do away with the disability program current managers of the agency are incompetent I really don't know what the answer is anymore.

Anonymous said...

@7:45AM: AMEN! Very well stated.

@10:18AM: BRAVO! I could not agree more. I am the 27+ year SA who was illegally forced out of my job 3 years ago. The ABUSIVE numbers, numbers, numbers, 8 & 4 mantra, and incompetent managers and top officials who constantly preach this, which is today's ODAR workplace undoubtedly contributed to my waterloo.

Moreover, all of this being done under the pseudo proclamation of quality, when the reality has ALWAYS been quantity and quality be damned sickens me. The quality of my work was exceptional. I gave my all to every case I reviewed and worked. Yet, I was illegally forced out the door.

There is clearly a systemic problem within ODAR and the SSA disability component of the Agency. If it is allowed to continue without imminant and appropriate redress by Congress, the President and the judicial branches of government, it will inevitably explode.

Anonymous said...

Query to 10:18 and 11:28? What is the "8 & 4"?

If the post-hearing development and review is the cause of delays, then what explains the 6 month delay for a written decision in cases where I have informed the ALJ that all evidence which I intend to submit is in the file?

It's at the point where I don't know what is causing the delay post-hearing, but I know it will take a very long time to get a written decision. Because of the delay, I can't help but feel that there's every reason in the world to submit post-hearing evidence. Why not? It appears that the case is just sitting there anyway.

Anonymous said...

@ 10:21 AM

I concur with your comments. Its not the post hearing submission of evidence causing delays from the hearing to the issuance of the decision, its simply a manpower issue with not enough writers to be able to get out timely decisions.

If the ALJ's decision decides the issue of disability through the date of the decision, then the ALJ should have to consider all evidence through the date of the decision, even if some of that evidence does not come into existence until after the hearing. "Closing the record" would prejudice claimant's who have additional evidence to support disability which does not exist until a time after the hearing was held.

I'm not sure the proposal in fact closes the record, as there would appear to be sufficient exceptions to allow for the submission of evidence post hearing that didn't exist prior.

Anonymous said...

1018 here

1. 8&4 is the ridiculous expectation that an unfavorable decision can be written in 8 hours and a fully favorable can be written in 4.

In the distant past, this was feasible but now the Agency wants everything but the kitchen sink in all decisions. Plus there is so much evidence in these files, 1000 pages is a regular occurance in some parts of the country. Furthermore, the cases sent to writing have multitudes of problems. They can be written but not fast, at least not if you want them done correctly.The ALJs are so remand adverse that their instructions are becoming rather bizarre. Then you have ALJs who toe the Agency line who rush everything and have very poor instructions. In the end those cases take longer be too many things need to be fixed.

2. Cases take time post hearing because there is such a rush to schedule that the ALJs simply dont have adequate time to review them in depth before the hearing.

Numerics are driving everything and ruining the process along the way.

We need to slow down to speed up.

We never have time to do it right the first time but we always have time to do it over.

The tail is wagging the dog.

We are doomed.

Anonymous said...

@10:21AM:

11:28AM here. I fully concur with 10:46AM. Ridiculous numerics, "Are driving everything and ruining the process along the way." 10:46AM's remarks about lack of manpower are also correct.

With regard to lack of manpower, my situation is a perfect reflection of what is wrong. I was illegally forced out the door by corrupt and incompetent managers, which included ROALJ Garmon, with 27+ years of experience, for no good reason. I was exceptional at my job, and received numerous accolades from ALJ's, private practice attorneys who handled SSA disability cases in my office, performance awards and QSI's for many years. I performed this despite years of harassment from corrupt managers and a gang of coworkers who conspired as a proxy for my ex-husband to destroy my employment and career with SSA/ODAR, as well as to destroy me financially, my reputation, and my physical and mental health. Numerous ODAR employees, managers and top officials knew this through the entire chain of command for many, many years but did nothing. My exe persistently wrote to the highest officials in the Agency. I even had evidence of criminal misconduct by a coworker.

At one point, a legal Petition to Remove these corrupt managers was filed by most of the ALJ's, prior managers and members of the private Bar who represent SSA disability claimants in my office, which detailed several instances of oppressive conduct by said managers, described how said managers pitted coworkers against one another, and described how said managers had forced numerous good career Federal employees out the door by their reprehensible conduct. The Agency's response was to do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Over the years, the same inept and corrupt managers, and top officials who turned a deaf ear to their conduct which they clearly were aware, promoted favorites they groomed to be just as corrupt and reckless and placed them in subordinate management positions.

In prior comments, I also noted I developed a disability over the years which prevents me from being able to persistently type detailed legal decisions and use a computer. Yet, I was denied every promotion I applied for positions which would not have required such persistent typing, despite all my credentials. I was also refused the RA to return to performing my job with verbal transcription and a typist. BTW, I was harassed and put through utter hell for years trying to obtain this RA. When I finally agreed to an RA which would allow me to primarily work from home, the harassment continued, and management constantly interfered with my ability to work my RA by engaging in all sorts of unscrupulous conduct.

Fast forward to today, and you have several of these individuals in top Agency official and management positions. It certainly does not take a rocket scientist to see much of the problem rests directly at the feet of these individuals. In my opinion, they are clueless that numerics are NOT the way to manage. Rather, the answer, as 10:46AM stated is, "We need to slow down to speed up."

Anonymous said...

For all of you advocating that we slow down, let records stay open seemingly forever and give the claimant all eternity to submit evidence (into this one claim--let's not forget they can always file another one as soon as they stop pursuit of an older one, and can get prior determinations/decisions reopened and receive benefits for those prior periods!)--are you serious?

Congress keeps signaling they want to cut our budget. Heck, even the allegedly friendly Dems, save for the progressive caucus, don't give us good budget money in their dream budget proposals that will never pass. So with the money situation being what it is, just what do you think is going to happen to the backlog if we do just as you advocate? If ALJs really slowed down and treated each case how you suggest. I'll tell you--the backlog would grow by hundreds of thousands of cases every year.

There's some simple truths that people only playing in the abstract or advocating solely for claimants don't want to face or don't know. One is that SSA has far too few employees and won't get as many as they need for many years, if ever. If you don't want any significant backlog, that means SSA and DDS have to process close to 1.5 million to 3 million (depending on that year's receipts) dismissals, determinations, and decisions each year.

We would be happy to get to 1,500 ALJs (the only folks who issue decisions or dismissals at ODAR these days), and I have no idea how many DDS decision makers there are. But even assuming ODAR only sees half of receipts, those 1,500 ALJs would have to average 666 decisions and dismissals in a 2-million receipt year to keep up with receipts. 666 is a big number.

Here's a fun hypothetical: let's say you believe the expectation should be that a decision maker, whether it be an ALJ or some other employee, spends a full workday on each case on average (this seems like a low number based on some comments above). Let's even include the hearing(s) in that eight hours. After you account for leave, trainings, meetings and other downtime, etc., your average decision maker is going to work about 1,800 hours a year, if that. 1,800 hours totals to 225 8-hour days, or in this scenario, 225 cases disposed of. 225 cases is less than half the low end of the current expectation for ALJs, which by the way is not keeping up with receipts. So, you would need to more than double the decision maker corps. Even if those new adjudicators were GS-13 or 14 employees, that's a ton of $$ that stays on the books long-term. And don't forget the agency currently sets a target of 4-4.5 employees per ALJ for support, so go ahead and multiply that number by 4. Suddenly you're saying ODAR needs to hire 1,500+ more adjudicators and 6,000+ more staff to support them. That's approaching 20% of SSAs current total staff!

So please, assuming our budget isn't changing significantly anytime soon, how in the world would you change things such that there were enough decision makers to spend as much time with the cases as you feel is needed without the backlog exploding under the weight of the 1.5-3 million new apps we get every year? I'm all ears. And before any AALJ types chime in, the right answer isn't repurposing regional and HQ staff that monitor ALJ productivity directly to the hearings operation ;)

Anonymous said...

@5:08PM:

HA! You sound like Gerald Ray. All your numerical, figures and numbers. Hogwash!

Taking a little more time to adjudicate and issue decisions would speed up the process over the long term. ODAR'S relentless obsession with numbers, numbers, numbers has always perpetuated a garbage in/garbage out work product. In other words, had the ALJ' and decision writer's spent just a little more time to get the decision right in the first place, you would have fewer cases coming back on remand. I am the 27+ SA, and I have always thought this garbage in/garbage out work product is an unnecessary self-perpetuating vicious cycle compliments of ODAR top officials obsession with numerics/quota way of managing.

Your remarks about new adjudicators, even GS-13/14 employees begs the question, "Why in the he!! did you destroy the Senior Attorney program?" This is by far the most idiotic, stupid action taken by top officials and management. The SA program as it originally began was extremely effective in reducing the backlog, and NO we were not paying down the backlog. Then you progressively chipped off adjudicating responsibilities SA's had until you destroyed the program.

What's worse, even though you could easily get the SA program up and running first thing tomorrow with SA's adjudicating cases with all the authority we had when the program began in 1995, you obstinately insist on implementing your AAJ idea. Hiring a bunch of new GS-15 AAJ's with NO Adjudication experience will NOT immediately reduce the backlog and makes no sense anyway. You could have the SA PROGRAM up and running as it originally began by the start of business tomorrow. Frankly, top officials should be raked over the coals for not having already done this, and for destroying the SA Program in the first place.

Anonymous said...

@5:08PM, Part 2:

Since you are all ears, how about holding corrupt managers and top officials, who engage in illegal Prohibited Personnel Practices and forced someone like me, 27+ experienced SA, etc., (see above), out the door, accountable, along with other employees you know engaged in misconduct, including criminal, and treat me with the dignity I worked so hard over the years, earned and deserve?

Anonymous said...

559

508 here

Part I

You make a valid argument and I have thought about it many times myself. I mean how many people can we hire, especially in this climate.

However, focusing just on numbers is not the answer and all it does is serve to slow us down. Getting repeated emails, skypes, stop bys, calls about production does not result in greater production. It results in less production.

I go back to my premise that we never have time to do it right the first time, but we always have time to do it over.

We need to start from the beginning and make sure that the cases are prepared correctly. Please stop trying to have the clerks perform work that the Attorneys should be doing. Attorneys should be preparing these cases for hearing so that the ALJ is prepared for hearing like she should be. Any lawyer worth his JD knows that you should know that file forwards and backwards before you ever walk in the courtroom, but our ALJs do not have that advantage.

The Agency is charged with due process and limiting the record is not in keeping with the spirit of this charge. Stop allowing the clerks to not pull cases properly. Why do I regularly see exhibits over 100 pages that are not in any proper order. Why are there several duplicates of the same document? Do you think that makes the ALJ or the DW able to work faster? HITMER is a complete disaster. Do you really think that a 400 page raw document that runs all together is helpful? Common sense alone will tell you that it is not. Stop it now.

Stop having all the mucky mucks who have not worked in a hearing office in years formulate all your new plans. Get people from the field and let them self-nominate. Stop trying to do everything by computer. Spend money to bring your people together. You can do it modestly if you try. Stop giving out bonuses and awards (to managers and employees) to save money. People would rather be treated better than receive the stupid awards that only cause problems anyway.

Now look, I am sure there is a lot of eye rolling at the 27 year attorney saga (no offense meant, I get it sister). But those things really happen out in the field. Do something about your piss poor managers out in the field. They are not "engaging" employees. Stop bringing in people from the DO to manage ODAR. Just look at the results since that bright idea was implemented.

And for God's sake, bring back the Senior Attorney program. We did move those cases and we did not pay down the backlog. We had a great agree weight when it was done objectively. Now you have that national centralized program and no body is paying much of anything.

Realize that you have a large group of knowledgeable professionals who can do the job and do it right without all the control freak nonsense. I am talking about both the ALJs and the Attorneys. Let us do our jobs and get out of the way. Now every middle manager pisses their pants if they have to make an unscripted decision. Therefore, the answer is always no and you cannot have innovation in that atmosphere. Stop having non-attorneys manage attorneys. Newsflash: it is not working. Limit the time that managers can serve in their positions. Stop having people who have never written decisions manage the decision writing process.

Look 559, the current manner of the way that ODAR is being run is NOT working. Acknowledge it and move on.

Anonymous said...

Part II

In a nut shell enable us to do it right the first time and treat your employees like the professionals that they are. Treat the clerks well too because they can provide valuable services, but you cannot make them attorneys no matter how much you try.

Work with your Unions. I have stated this before, they want certain things and you want certain things. Work it out, stop trying to beat the Unions down. It is counter productive. Stop sending argumentative people to negotiations. Make obtaining a "working agreement" more lauded than "winning" because no one is winning at the moment. Not the claimants, not the employees and not management.

Further, get your butts up on the Hill and kiss ass. It does work if you send the right people who know what they are doing. OCALJ used to go up on the Hill all the time and it worked. Now Baltimore has to dot every i and cross every t, but they can't even get that right. When HHS let us go, they created a monster up there. ODAR is a mess because the wrong personalities are in control. It is their way or the highway in most cases and that simply doesn't work.

This was written off the cuff because I am just disgusted at this point. A while ago I posted a much better thought out plan. If I can find a copy of it, I will post it again.

I sincerely want to see the Agency succeed and I think most of us do. The problem is when people who never really took public service seriously get ensconced at the top and stay there.

Anonymous said...

@5:08PM and subsequent Parts I and II:

Wow. Simply wow. I had some difficuty reconciling the same person who authored 5:08 authored the subsequent Parts I & II. I fully concur with ALL the remarks you made in Parts I & II. It's reassuring you really do get it. By all means, please do everything in your power to advocate and implement everything you said.

One thing you asserted I would like to clarify about my situation is that acknowledging ODAR is currently not working and that I should move on is not an option I currently have. I was illegally forced out of my SA position 3 years ago, and I have had no income since. The Agency has denied all my requests for paid forms of Emergency Leave provided in the CBA, as well as any form of paid Administrative Leave, even though they granted it for long periods to many who engaged in misconduct.

The Agency has been extremely adversarial in my employment case, treated me without any dignity or respect, and caused me immeasurable emotional distress, which has severely exacerbated my disability and physical and mental health.

I can no longer pick up and move. Since I started with ODAR right out of law school, SSA disability is my area of expertise. It's what I know. The Agency has also done nothing to advance my application for OWCP benefits, and I recently had no choice but to apply for DR.

Before I can even consider walking away or having any closure, justice must be served. The horrific wrongs I have endured for many years must be appropriately and fully remedied in such a manner that I can live the rest of my life without financial or medical distress. Moreover, those whom the Agency knows from investigators who engaged in misconduct, wrongdoing and even criminal acts where I am concerned, must be held FULLY accountable for their actions, ie, mere slaps on the wrists by the Agency will NOT due. Until this is achieved, I will continue to be quite vocal with Congress, investigators and the media.

Anonymous said...

916

My comment to move on was not directed to you at all. It was to 559 management to acknowledge that the current manner in which ODAR is being managed is failing. Sorry for any confusion. I am sorry for what the Agency has done to you.

Anonymous said...

I see what happened I put in the wrong time signature just to clarify I am 1046 1018 10:10 and now 9:48

508 was the management official

559 is the senior attorney with 27 years experience

My comments at 10:10 were directed to 508

This all gets a little confusing because none of us use names for obvious reasons

Anonymous said...

SA @5:59, et. al., here: I appreciate the clarification. Now I understand why I had difficulty reconciling your Parts I & II @10:10 with 5:08.

That being said, 5:08 and other members of management/top officials, I cannot urge you enough to listen to 10:10, et. al., their earlier remarks, as well as all of my comments, and for heaven's sake, implement each and everyone of them ASAP.

I guarantee if you do this, the backlog will not only begin dwindling down, but ODAR's efficiency, effectiveness, and quality reputation as an Agency and place to work it maintained during the OHA years, and before the disasterous implementation of HPI, has great potential to return.

Again, please listen to us and take to heart everything we said and recommended.

Anonymous said...

I am glad that I don't do this $#@! anymore!

Anonymous said...

@ 9:16

that's because the purported 5:08 who wrote parts I and II is lying--I am the author of the 5:08 comment that begged for insight on how slowing down the process while assuming the $ situation will remain the same is going to do anything but make the disability program grind to a halt. I don't agree with like anything the imposter 5:08 said, lol.

Charles, you should look into setting up anonymous trip codes or whatever like many anon boards have to allow for people to see which posts belong to whom while keeping anonymity.

Anonymous said...

@2:07 & 5:08:

Your rejection of all of the things the author of Parts I & II, and I affirmatively indicated should be done ASAP to address the backlog and improve ODAR perfectly demonstrates why ODAR is in the unprecedented mess it is, and why the ship will continue to sink so long as you and your ilk are running the Agency. You represent everything that is WRONG with ODAR and are a DISGRACE.

The arrogance displayed by your 'tee hees' to each and everyone of the suggestions we made is typical of the abusive top down management culture which now exists in ODAR.

The only LIE in the comments here is your assertion your EARS ARE WIDE OPEN. Your words and actions are inconsistent with any desire for innovative ideas and suggestions. To the contrary, they are consistent with an arrogant, pompous narcissistic top official or manager who does not give a damn about what employees in the field hearing offices think.

You are disgusting. Members of Congress, please take note of this conversation because it perfectly demonstrates why ODAR is in such a mess. Managers like this must go.

Anonymous said...

2:07 look up a few posts and you will see that I explained the mistake and made it known that I was not 5:08. No need to attack, but that is the ODAR/DO manager way. I bet you are from the DO or at the very least a non-attorney or an attorney who got their JD on the DO dime.

If you ask for constructive ideas and then get some, why don't you address my points with counterpoints.

We can certainly have an intelligent conversation even if we disagree.

That is the problem with ODAR management, they say they are listening, they say that they are "all ears" but they don't like what they are hearing, so they ignore it.

See France 1787, Roman Empire 476, East Germany/Berlin Wall 1989. You get my drift.

We are doomed if things don't change soon.

I agree that there should be some way to keep are posts straight with anonymity.

Anonymous said...

Mr./Ms. Manager/top official @5:08 & 2:07:

You NEVER even bothered to rationalize why any of the recommendations the author of Parts I & II made would not help reduce the backlog within the confines of the financial situation of ODAR.

How, prey tell, would getting the original SA Program up and running with the authority SA's had when the program began NOT fit into these perimeters? The truth is it perfectly fits into these perimeters, but you do not want to admit it. The same is true with all of the other recommendations we made.

Earn your salary for once, and rationalize for us why none of our recommendations would work, be helpful, ot improve ODAR's current situation. Your sweeping refusal to even consider any of our recommendations without providing any analysis in support of your refusal is NOT what you are being paid to do.

niaziakmal khan said...

This blog awesome and i learn a lot about programming from here.The best thing about this blog is that you doing from beginning to experts level.

Love from Pprogramming

Anonymous said...

To members of Congress, their staff, the Executive branch, the Judicial branch and readers of this blog:

Please note it has been 3 days, and there has been no answer from the SSA/ODAR top official or manager who authored comments 5:08 and 2:07.

This lack of response and refusal to answer why the recommendations of the author of Parts I & II would not immediately begin to reduce the unprecedented backlog of disability cases, and improve the overall effectiveness, functioning, and efficiency of ODAR, in addition to creating a workplace which respects the dignity of its employees, rather than the authoritarian, top down abusive management culture which presently exists is quite telling.

When an Agency is run by top officials and management who falsely indicate they are all ears, but in reality, their actions indicate they refuse to even listen, or have an intelligent conversation and dialogue with those in the field hearing offices, many of whom have worked for the Agency longer than they, or bring to the table qualifications and experience they cannot even envision, particularly law degrees and licenses not earned on the Agency DO's dime, there is a severe problem which must by imminently addressed.

When Eanes was before the Senate Finance Committee most recently, the Committee indicated his confirmation is contingent on his willingness to speak with Congress transparently as often as necessary. Senate Finance Committee, the time is now just as soon as you return from your break.

This nonsense with Colvin remaining in the top position despite Eanes nomination by Obama is ridiculous. The ONLY reason she is doing this is to protect certain Agency officials, managers and employees who engaged in misconduct and wrongdoing. As head of the Agency, she has exclusive control as to any discipline issued, and she is ONLY hanging on to protect these individuals from more harsh disciplinary measures, which would otherwise be taken in some cases. This type of cronyism and manipulation is inconsistent with civil service merit system and must be addressed.

Ramachandran Gopalan said...

This post is likeable, and your blog is very interesting, congratulations.
Bizarre News

Anonymous said...

This proposed rule is completely illogical when combined with the current rule requiring submission of all evidence. If a rule requires a person to submit all evidence, how can that rule exist with another rule that prohibits the submission of evidence. How can one rule require something and another rule prohibit what the first rule requires?