Social Security judges facing more violent threats

Discussion in 'International Current News & Events' started by HozayBuck, Nov 14, 2010.

  1. HozayBuck

    HozayBuck Well-Known Member

    I have some doubts that these are elderly folks who paid into the SSI system all their lives... more likely it's the free lunch crowd.... goes to show where things will go when the checks stop coming!!...

    Social Security judges facing more violent threats - Yahoo! News

    WASHINGTON – Judges who hear Social Security disability cases are facing a growing number of violent threats from claimants angry over being denied benefits or frustrated at lengthy delays in processing claims.

    There were at least 80 threats to kill or harm administrative law judges or staff over the past year — an 18 percent increase over the previous reporting period, according to data collected by the agency.

    The data was released to the Association of Administrative Law Judges and made available to The Associated Press.

    One claimant in Albuquerque, N.M., called his congressman's office to say he was going to "take his guns and shoot employees" in the Social Security hearing office. In Eugene, Ore., a man who was denied benefits said he is "ready to join the Taliban and hurt some people." Another claimant denied benefits told a judge in Greenville, S.C., that he was a sniper in the military and "would go take care of the problem."

    "I'm not sure the number is as significant as the kind of threats being made," said Randall Frye, a judge based in Charlotte, N.C., and the president of the judges' union. "There seem to be more threats of serious bodily harm, not only to the judge but to the judge's family."

    Fifty of the incidents came between March and August, including that of a Pittsburgh claimant who threatened to kill herself outside the hearing office or fly a plane into the building like a disgruntled tax protester did earlier this year at the Internal Revenue Service building in Austin, Texas.

    A Senate subcommittee is expected to hear testimony on Monday at a field hearing in Akron, Ohio, about the rising number of threats, as well as the status of the massive backlog in applications for disability benefits, which are available to people who can't work because of medical problems.

    Nearly 2 million people are waiting to find out if they qualify for benefits, with many having to wait more than two years to see their first payment.

    Judges say some claimants become desperate after years of fighting for money to help make ends meet.

    "To many of them, we're their last best hope for getting relief in the form of income and medical benefits," said Judge Mark Brown, a vice president of the judge's union and an administrative law judge hearing cases in St. Louis.

    While no judges were harmed this year, there have been past incidents: A judge in Los Angeles was hit over the head with a chair during a hearing and a judge in Newburgh, N.Y., was punched by a claimant when he showed up for work.

    In January, a gunman possibly upset about a reduction in his Social Security benefits killed a security guard during a furious gunbattle at a Nevada federal courthouse.

    About 1,400 administrative law judges handle appeals of Social Security disability claims at about 150 offices across the country. Many are in leased office space rather than government buildings.

    Brown said the agency provides a single private security guard for each office building that houses judges. Frye said he has sought more security and a review of the policy that keeps guards out of hearing rooms. He said Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue has promised to look into it.

    Social Security Administration spokeswoman Trish Nicasio said the agency continually evaluates the level and effectiveness of office security and makes changes as needed.

    "We are taking appropriate steps to protect our employees and visitors while still providing the level of face-to-face service the public expects and deserves," Nicasio said.

    Visitors and their belongings are screened before entering hearing offices and hearings room, she said, and reception desks are equipped with duress alarms to notify the guard immediately of any disturbance.

  2. jnrdesertrats

    jnrdesertrats Noob

    Well speaking from personnal experience it is a long a frustrating road. My wife had been working since she was 15, she is 47 now. After falling and injuring her back at work she went through the workmans comp system briefly and went back to work. She was still in pain but like most americans was a good little worker bee and toughed it out.

    A few years later she fell again while walking down a jeep road and landed on a rock. That really finished her. She was in constant pain and on heavy duty meds. Really just a shell of her former self, physically and mentally. Her state disability dried up at after a year. She applied for SSI and was denied twice. The third time with the help of an advocate/ Lawyer she was granted permanent disability. It took 20 months to go through the process. Last year we drove 2000 miles for medical visits and spent thousands of dollars in medical bills. This year she had spine surgery and is on less meds but is not cured by any means or capable of working. Fortunately I make a decent living and was able to take her to the best doctors I could afford.

    Don't get me wrong I think it should be difficult to get permanent disability and there are plenty of people abusing the system, but it suck's to be the person who earned it, needs it and has to wait 2 years. If they had denied her again I really don't know what I would have done.

  3. HozayBuck

    HozayBuck Well-Known Member

    And I agree with you 100 % ..the problem stems from those who never earned a penny....

    I have a friend in MT who is a Doctor..he's a podiatrist when the State of MT started cracking down and cutting the welfare rolls... he was swamped with dozens of over weight middle aged women who had never worked a day in their lives got preg in their teens and went on welfare.. they wanted him to diagnose them as having foot disorders so bad they were disabled.. He refused all... I could not believe it but it's true...

    But I also know people like your wife who ran into the same road blocks... the system is broke and I don't know the cure and I really feel for those who deserve but fall thru the cracks..

    When my SO was diagnosed with Cancer the SS folks bent over to get her signed up..I think it went thru in less then a month, she drew 2 checks before she died... but they tried... really ..

    One other thing I noticed in my life, if your in a smaller city with fewer people the work gets done much faster.. I use VA and in MT I can walk into the VA hospital without an appt and see a Doctor within an hour... hell you can't do that any place.. but I'll bet in say OKC or D/FW it would never happen.. be there a week waiting...
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2010
  4. jnrdesertrats

    jnrdesertrats Noob

    I just read in the paper that the first wave of baby boomers will be eligible in 6 weeks. So her 4th check may be an IOU. :dunno:
  5. KittyCat

    KittyCat Active Member

    Observations of a KittyCat: Having spoke to two private security guards that work at various Social Security Offices I am informed that most incidents necessitating their service usually occur when the monthly payment is late. The individuals in question usually suffer some type of observable mental disorder, expressed by emotional agitation, physical shaking and verbal rage. Sadly, it will take the death of an Administrative Judge in a hearing room to get the necessary protection. Case in point: It took the death of an IRS employee by aircraft assault to force the Service to extend nationwide guard service to offices previously without such protection.
  6. Ezmerelda

    Ezmerelda Well-Known Member

    Just as long as the protection doesn't come from the "civilian security force" Obama talked about.