While I certainly have issues with hearing offices, none in Jacksonville rise to the level that sicken me.  I realize that is a fairly low bar, but read on about the issues going in in Madison, Wisconsin.  Federal agents are looking into allegations of misconduct – specifically, sexual harassment.  See this article from last month.

 

MADISON, Wis. – Federal investigators are in Madison seeking answers to widespread allegations of misconduct at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review.

The Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration questioned staff members at the Madison office Wednesday and are expected to continue their on-site investigation through the weeks, according to an ODAR employee and whistleblower.

Celia Machelle Keller, a lead case technician at the Madison office, said OIG’s presence gives her more confidence that something will finally be done about what some Madison employees have called a “culture of corruption and cover up.”

“I’m confident something will be done, but I’m not confident it will be what is ultimately needed, which is a pure wash of local and regional managers,” Keller said. “The corruption is not just in the Madison office, it’s in the regional office.

The OIG, sources say, has for weeks been conducting an investigation into conduct complaints, particularly those allegations surrounding Administrative Law Judge John Pleuss and Hearing Office Director Laura Hodorowicz.

As Wisconsin Watchdog first reported, Pleuss is accused of sexually harassing staff members and disability claimants. Wisconsin Watchdog last month obtained Pleuss’ case notes in which he described claimants with adjectives like “buxom,” “cute,” and, in the case of a black woman appearing before him, “gorilla-like.”

Multiple whistleblowers accuse Pleuss of inappropriately touching and addressing them, and deciding disability cases based on the physical attractiveness of claimants.

Keller claims Pleuss inappropriately hugged her, making her feel uncomfortable.

Sources also claim Hodorowicz and other administrators have retaliated against them, and have effectively bribed employees, rewarding them for their loyalty and silence.

U.S. Sen Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, on June 14 sent a letter to Carolyn Colvin, informing the SSA’s acting commissioner that the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has opened an inquiry into reports of misconduct and retaliation in both the Madison and Milwaukee ODAR facilities. Johnson is chairman of that panel.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, recently sent a letter to SSA’s acting commissioner demanding that the agency take “immediate action” to address the allegations.

“In light of an apparent lack of disciplinary action since my previous correspondence, I believe it is time for you to intervene and ensure that the Madison ODAR office is a safe work environment, free from inappropriate behavior, that provides the highest-quality service to my constituents,” Baldwin wrote.

The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee still is waiting for the SSA to complete multiple requests for information.

Last week I posed about Hillary Clinton’s position on Social Security and Medicare.  The information posted was pulled from her website and represents her formal positions.  Mr. Trump’s website does not contain information on Social Security so the following comments are pulled from various news outlets.

From The Fiscal Times:

Trump early in the primary season said he would oppose cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, seemingly echoing the sentiments of liberal Democrats and drawing kudos from senior advocacy groups.

However, Bloomberg reported that when Trump met with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on May 12, he said privately that he favors cutting Social Security on moral grounds but knew that declaring it would seriously hurt his chances in November. The following day, Trump’s senior policy adviser Sam Clovis said during a conference in Washington that Trump would consider changes in Social Security and Medicare “after the administration’s been in place.”

Last week, the Republican delegates gathered in Cleveland were emphatic in saying that all entitlement programs, including Social Security, will be on the table in looking for long-term solutions to budget and debt problems. Ryan and other GOP leaders have long advocated changes in Social Security, including partial privatization of the system.

“We reject the old maxim that Social Security is the “Third Rail” of American politics, deadly for anyone who would change it,” the GOP platform states. “The Democratic Party still treats it that way, even though everyone knows that its current course will lead to a financial and social disaster. As the party of America’s future, we accept the responsibility to preserve and modernize a system of retirement security forged in an old industrial era beyond the memory of most Americans.”

From the Wall Street Journal Blog:

Donald Trump has changed positions on many issues over the years, but there’s one he’s been sticking with through thick and thin during the 2016 campaign: He’s not going to change or cut Social Security. And that is a blow to his party’s fiscal conservatives who have spent decades trying to get Washington to address the long-term insolvency of the Social Security trust fund.

“We’re going to save your Social Security without killing it like so many people want to do,” Mr. Trump said last weekend at a rally in Phoenix.

From CNN:

It’s easy to summarize Donald Trump’s position on Social Security. He doesn’t want to touch it.

But his new running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, has a very different view. He wants to radically reform the program.
Pence spent 12 years in Congress as a leading fiscal conservative.

During his tenure he backed various efforts to reform Social Security in a bid to make the program solvent for the long term and to reduce government spending. Among those efforts was President Bush’s 2005 reform proposal.

Among other things, Bush’s plan would have let workers divert some of their payroll taxes into private investment accounts. It also would have reduced the growth rate in benefits for future high-income retirees.

August 23, 2016

As I am just surfing the internet one day, I see that a doctor in Denver Colorado has been accused of treating two people for MS with significant medications and diagnostic testing that do not actually have MS.  Even more surprising was that this doctor, Gary Weiss, M.D. used to practice in Jacksonville  Florida.  A link to the full story is below.

2 women treated by Vail doctor for multiple sclerosis for up to 8 years didn’t have the disease, lawsuit says

As election season rolls around, I thought I would put up a few of the candidates thoughts on Social Security and Medicare.  From her campaign website:

Social Security isn’t just a program—it’s a promise. As president, Hillary will:

  • Defend Social Security against Republican attacks.
  • Oppose reducing annual cost-of-living adjustments.
  • Oppose Republican efforts to raise the retirement age—an unfair idea that will particularly hurt the seniors who have worked the hardest throughout their lives.
  • Oppose closing the long-term shortfall on the backs of the middle class, whether through benefit cuts or tax increases
  • Expand Social Security for those who need it most and who are treated unfairly by the current system—including women who are widows and those who took significant time out of the paid workforce to take care of their children, aging parents, or ailing family members.
  • Preserve Social Security for decades to come by asking the wealthiest to contribute more. Social Security must continue to guarantee dignity in retirement for future generations. Hillary understands that there is no way to accomplish that goal without asking the highest-income Americans to pay more, including options to tax some of their income above the current Social Security cap and taxing some of their income not currently taken into account by the Social Security system.

Medicare:  Medicare is the bedrock of health care coverage for more than 50 million American seniors and people with disabilities. As senator, Hillary co-sponsored and sponsored bills to reduce the impact of the Medicare prescription drug gap by reducing the price of pharmaceuticals for seniors.  As president, Hillary will:

  • Fight Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
  • Fight back against Republican plans to privatize or “phase out” Medicare as we know it.
  • Drive down drug costs for seniors and other Americans.
  • Reform Medicare delivery systems to deliver value and quality to our seniors and people with disabilities.

For more about Hillary Clinton’s thoughts on Social Security and Medicare, go to her website:  https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/social-security-and-medicare/

The 2016 SuperLawyers are in and I am proud to announce that I was named one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in the state.  Oddly enough, I can name at least 10 women in Jacksonville who are better than I am, but admittedly none practice in the Social Security area.  Again, I am humbled by this honor.

 

http://www.superlawyers.com/florida/toplists/top-50-2016-women-florida-super-lawyers/705a254246ff6850de83ad6a8e461c0a

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