|Anthony Castelli Attorney|
I am calling on President Obama to order the Social Security Administration to stop this practice immmediately. This practice is so secret that there has not even been a published memo on the subject. In other words this policy has not been published publicly anywhere.
Everyone that applies for social secuity disability benefits either SSI or SSDI if denied has an opportunity to appeal their case and have a hearing in front of a federal administrative law Judge. Previously, once the claim was assigned to what is called the Office of disability adjudication and review a Judge would be assigned and you could learn his name. Now because of social security's secret policy you do not learn of the name of the Judge until the day of the hearing.
This secret procedure smacks of a totalitarian government. This seems untenable in a democratic society, but yet the secrecy has gone on for one year now. Where is the main stream press on this. No where. I call on President Obama to immediately lift the secrecy. Certainly he has the power to make the Social Security Administration reveal the names of the Judges before a hearing is held.
The Problem Created by a Secret Govermental Agency Policy
Social security disability lawyers are up in arms. The National Organization of Social Security Claimant's Represntatives, of which I am a member, is fighting this issue with Freedom of Information requests. Social Secuity has indicated the reason for the change is to reduce the risk of forum shopping. Apparently this policy is in response to whether you agree to a video hearing or not as one of the considerations. Because of a big backlog in some areas SSA has gone to more video hearings. These hearings are with Judges in other jurisdictions. However a claimant does not have to agree to a video hearing.
However this justification is speculative at best and certainly does not justify secrecy. As NOSSCR noted:
"When a government uses secrecy to disadvantage claimants it is more likely the agency will get away with error, fail to follow policy or deny due process." Attorneys doing social security disability work usually do a lot of it since it is a special area in the law . A niche if you will. The social security disability lawyers come to know all the local judges. Every judge is a bit different and knowing the judge helps a lawyer prepare for the case.
But the bottom line is the GOVERMENT IS KEEPING SECRETS when it is not necessary. This can only lead to the futher intrusion of intolerable government secret actions in our lives. Men and women have fought and died for freedom. It is now being watered down and taken away from under our very noses.
So I say, President Obama tear down these walls.
These walls of government secrecy.
Good Lord I never thought these words of President Reagan would have to be used towards a President of the United States.
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