Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

SSA Attorney Advisors

A sizeable amount of my Attorney advisor colleagues at the A izzymandelbaum08/02/17
Hopefully, and awesome name by the way. Mandelbaum! mandelba kramer71608/03/17
Haha thanks! Well see. There have been several internal post izzymandelbaum08/05/17
Which office are you in? It seems, at least according to the kramer71608/07/17
Falls Church. izzymandelbaum08/07/17
Thank you. it is appreciated. kramer71608/07/17
My kid works with you. roadkingrider08/16/17
Why are so many leaving SSA? dcm198308/07/17
My understanding is that almost all attorneys who aren't in downwardslope08/07/17
People at ODAR think the ALJ application will open up again jduno08/07/17
This is not correct for the AC Attorney Advisers. Attorney a izzymandelbaum08/07/17
Interesting, so the decision writer job is really bad then? dcm198308/07/17
No. There is just a backlog now so everyone who can decision downwardslope08/07/17
Frankly, I'm not sure why anyone with any kind of career amb dimsum08/07/17
Honestly, in my old town, the pay was actually higher than y downwardslope08/08/17
I am a cheap SOB, so can do DC or another bigger city, but h kramer71608/08/17
Wow have they still not let anyone know about these spots?? oddis50008/08/17
I appreciate it. The fallback is to be a prosecutor in Palau kramer71608/08/17
SSA is recruiting decision writers for NCAC Falls Church and 55beauty08/16/17
Can you email me the job announcement? My email is: attorne esq2408/16/17
If you, or anyone else, would be so kind as to send this job lowry4408/16/17
This is so frustrating. I applied, don't know the date but i kramer71608/17/17
Hi everybody. Lurker here but decided to post an update. I bananajd08/17/17
Appreciate it. kramer71608/17/17
I was told NHC had interviews scheduled through tomorrow and jdmaryland08/17/17
Can you be barred in any state since SS disability law is al dharamsala08/17/17
Yes, there are very few positions with the feds that require downwardslope08/17/17
Just an update for those who were referred to the St. Louis kramer71608/18/17
Just heard from someone who got a TO in Woodlawn. jdmaryland08/18/17
Appreciate the update. Will consider my chances dead on that kramer71608/18/17
I interviewed for the STL position on Tuesday, has anyone he stevebrule08/24/17
I interviewed for the STL position on Tuesday, has anyone he stevebrule08/24/17
Did you ever get an offer or an update on the STL position? cmk11311/16/17
I don't have an update for you, but if they were interviewin kramer71611/16/17
I worked at this job for three years and have not worked the startupesq11/21/17
Does it ever bother people here, when they so so many totall notreallyalawyer11/21/17
Looks like the SSA is going to become more like the BVA. App notreallyalawyer11/21/17
Interesting article. It sounds pretty miserable at the AL jinomas12/16/17
Critical case processing does make a difference and speeds u jacque3012/16/17
It is not becoming more like the BVA. They haven’t hired e downwardslope12/16/17
I'd be interested in a comparison between the NCACs and the startupesq12/16/17
The NCACs are the worst by far. You get instructions from al downwardslope12/16/17
Why is there not a mechanism to force ALJs to use standard i lawst12/21/17
Really tried to avoid making another island run, but looking kramer71612/16/17
Sorry, relevancy to this thread is the fact that I applied t kramer71612/16/17
Just an FYI. The Macon SSA opening was canceled. I got that kramer71612/22/17
IN keeping with our discussion regarding how insane USAJobs oddis50001/06/18
THe feds love to tease. I received the usual "We found you q kramer71602/12/18

izzymandelbaum (Aug 2, 2017 - 10:28 pm)

A sizeable amount of my Attorney advisor colleagues at the Appeals Council departed for the VA (and other opportunities) over the last two weeks. So I would guess (who knows though with how things have been) there may be a posting in the future...

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kramer716 (Aug 3, 2017 - 2:05 pm)

Hopefully, and awesome name by the way. Mandelbaum! mandelbaum! mandelbaum!

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izzymandelbaum (Aug 5, 2017 - 10:30 pm)

Haha thanks! Well see. There have been several internal posts for other roles but who knows.

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kramer716 (Aug 7, 2017 - 2:38 pm)

Which office are you in? It seems, at least according to the people on here, that the new attorneys are leaving the VA en masse, so it would make sense they would have to get an influx of new blood from somewhere.

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izzymandelbaum (Aug 7, 2017 - 3:35 pm)

Falls Church.

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kramer716 (Aug 7, 2017 - 3:52 pm)

Thank you. it is appreciated.

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roadkingrider (Aug 16, 2017 - 9:24 pm)

My kid works with you.

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dcm1983 (Aug 7, 2017 - 4:33 pm)

Why are so many leaving SSA?

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downwardslope (Aug 7, 2017 - 7:20 pm)

My understanding is that almost all attorneys who aren't in the OGC are now being asked to do decision writing. This includes attorneys who have been promoted to group supervisors, quality review, etc. Many people who were hired on last year to the appeals council were also converted over to decision writers. They are pretty much begging people to do overtime, but new people aren't eligible and it's fairly unappealing since you have to pre-request how much you are going to do and then hope you finish a decision in the allotted time. You're not supposed to be working on your other cases during the overtime hours.

Pretty much the only way out at this point to something OTHER than decision writing is to hope to get on the ALJ register, which may be opening up soon (so people think). My impression of the people who were hired in my group earlier this year is that they're trying to move to more to mid-career folks who are more likely to stay longer term than new people who seem to have dreams of being "real" lawyers and then have their hopes dashed and leave ASAP.

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jduno (Aug 7, 2017 - 8:35 pm)

People at ODAR think the ALJ application will open up again soon? It was opened briefly in Spring 2016 and from what I understand, we're on a new certificate and ODAR is interviewing off the new register right now with new ALJs starting next month. So that you think the register is opening again soon is interesting. I didn't meet the 7 years' experience requirement in Spring 2016 but do now. I wasn't expecting another open register for a few years.

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izzymandelbaum (Aug 7, 2017 - 10:16 pm)

This is not correct for the AC Attorney Advisers. Attorney advisers at the AC do not write hearing decisions. The group the other person is referencing were hired as temps and converted to decision writers due to an internal issue. As to why people are leaving, they are frustrated with delay in promotions. Some had been stuck at a GS 12 for awhile. The VA position ladders to 14.

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dcm1983 (Aug 7, 2017 - 7:37 pm)

Interesting, so the decision writer job is really bad then?

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downwardslope (Aug 7, 2017 - 8:11 pm)

No. There is just a backlog now so everyone who can decision write is having to decision write. I think the people who left were probably from the group hired last year who were converted over to decision writers unwillingly from Appeals Council positions because they were in term positions. I think there were several who ended up leaving the AC to go into decision writing positions outside of the DC area because it was cheaper (I know of a couple I met in training), but the AC positions capped out at GS-12 while the BVA caps out at GS-14. The AC is a higher echelon job than a plain decision writer, but if you aren't actually going to do AC work, then what is the use of staying?

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dimsum (Aug 7, 2017 - 8:58 pm)

Frankly, I'm not sure why anyone with any kind of career ambition would remain an attorney at ODAR. It seems great for working parents, etc., but there's zero upward mobility, and the work is niche and unmarketable. You're not really picking up any legal skills, aside from learning how to read a medical record efficiently and spit it out into a template.

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downwardslope (Aug 8, 2017 - 8:30 am)

Honestly, in my old town, the pay was actually higher than you could expect to receive in the private sector according to the bar survey. It is a good salary if you are in towns/cities with few higher paying options. For people in DC or where the regional offices are, or with other fed offices, not so much.

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kramer716 (Aug 8, 2017 - 8:49 am)

I am a cheap SOB, so can do DC or another bigger city, but hoping for Louisville where I think cost of living should be less of an issue

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oddis500 (Aug 8, 2017 - 12:19 pm)

Wow have they still not let anyone know about these spots?? Kramer if there is any justice you will get one out of perseverance if for no other reason. They'd be lucky to get you.

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kramer716 (Aug 8, 2017 - 1:34 pm)

I appreciate it. The fallback is to be a prosecutor in Palau, but would really like to stay in this hemisphere if at all possible.

As for the status, I am guessing they filled the southern openings, but for Louisville, but we shall see.

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55beauty (Aug 16, 2017 - 5:29 pm)

SSA is recruiting decision writers for NCAC Falls Church and Baltimore. They extended the deadline again to August 28, 2017. Many people are leaving this job for various reasons, and dimsum is right about the lack of transferable skills learned in the decision writer job. But go for it if you don't have other options.

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esq24 (Aug 16, 2017 - 5:43 pm)

Can you email me the job announcement? My email is: [email protected] Thank you!

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lowry44 (Aug 16, 2017 - 5:57 pm)

If you, or anyone else, would be so kind as to send this job announcement to [email protected], it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

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kramer716 (Aug 17, 2017 - 1:27 am)

This is so frustrating. I applied, don't know the date but it was when this bulletin was first circulated, and have heard crickets. It sounds like they need bodies, so all I would like is an interview at this point. I would take a rejection if they tell me I am rejected, but the sound of silence is driving me nuts. Anyway, good luck to all who applied. I know someone, or at least I was told that they interviewed for one of the Baltimore openings, so they are interviewing people. Good luck if you apply.

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bananajd (Aug 17, 2017 - 3:17 pm)

Hi everybody. Lurker here but decided to post an update. I interviewed with both NHC and NCAC. I was told NHC selections were made on 8/15 and sent to HR. My references were checked for NHC but I have not heard anything yet.

I was told thought for NHC, selected candidates would hopefully hear back by end of this week (since it's Thursday now, who knows??) and for NCAC spots, candidates would hear back by end of the fiscal year which is 9/30.

NHC is aiming to start its attorneys the week of 9/18.

I hope this helps anyone out there looking to hear back!

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kramer716 (Aug 17, 2017 - 3:47 pm)

Appreciate it.

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jdmaryland (Aug 17, 2017 - 5:35 pm)

I was told NHC had interviews scheduled through tomorrow and selections would made after then. I also heard start date would be. Ear 9/17.
I did, however, receive the same info as you re:NCAC.

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dharamsala (Aug 17, 2017 - 6:02 pm)

Can you be barred in any state since SS disability law is all federal?

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downwardslope (Aug 17, 2017 - 6:46 pm)

Yes, there are very few positions with the feds that require you to be licensed in a specific state. Usually those that do are on military bases and specify you must have knowledge of Georgia state law, for example. I think there are some with the courts in DC that may require the DC bar, but most people should be eligible to waive in there if they have a high enough MBE score.

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kramer716 (Aug 18, 2017 - 11:14 am)

Just an update for those who were referred to the St. Louis opening. I contacted the hiring contact for St. Louis and was told that there are no updates, but she said that I was one of over 50 that were sent to the hiring official for consideration, so figure your odds of being selected are about 2%.

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jdmaryland (Aug 18, 2017 - 1:40 pm)

Just heard from someone who got a TO in Woodlawn.

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kramer716 (Aug 18, 2017 - 2:35 pm)

Appreciate the update. Will consider my chances dead on that listing then.

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stevebrule (Aug 24, 2017 - 11:01 pm)

I interviewed for the STL position on Tuesday, has anyone heard anything?

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stevebrule (Aug 24, 2017 - 11:08 pm)

I interviewed for the STL position on Tuesday, has anyone heard anything?

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cmk113 (Nov 16, 2017 - 2:23 pm)

Did you ever get an offer or an update on the STL position?

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kramer716 (Nov 16, 2017 - 11:36 pm)

I don't have an update for you, but if they were interviewing people back in August, then I would say your chances are nil. Having said that I was contacted for a position in the Albuquerque SSA office months after I was told I wasn't selected, so never say never. I would contact the hiring contact and see what the hold-up is. I checked my status, and it still says referred, but my money is on they filled the position months ago.

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startupesq (Nov 21, 2017 - 11:37 am)

I worked at this job for three years and have not worked there in nearly one year and it still says referred, lol.

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notreallyalawyer (Nov 21, 2017 - 11:42 am)

Does it ever bother people here, when they so so many totally incompetent people work for the federal government yet you constantly get rejected by them?

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notreallyalawyer (Nov 21, 2017 - 1:10 pm)

Looks like the SSA is going to become more like the BVA. Appeals taking too long, people dying. Enjoy your increased quotas
http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/local/2017/11/20/10000-people-died-waiting-for-a-disability-decision-in-the-past-year-will-he-be-next/?utm_term=.2f97a7636c73

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jinomas (Dec 16, 2017 - 11:43 am)

Interesting article.

It sounds pretty miserable at the ALJ and decision-writing levels with that backlog. But that attorney sounds absolutely right about the need for more evidence to support his claim.

I wonder how much of a difference, if any, a critical case designation makes (https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/hallex/I-02/I-2-1-40.html).

The article also does not discuss the role that technology has played how cases are decided (http://www.gwlr.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/83-Geo-Wash-L-Rev-1575.pdf).

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jacque30 (Dec 16, 2017 - 9:54 pm)

Critical case processing does make a difference and speeds up the process significantly. For serious cases (cancer), they are usually paid immediately. This article does not state whether the individuals who died waiting for benefits died from the health impairment. In my experience, most of the deaths while an appeal was pending were either unrelated (car accident) or drug overdose.

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downwardslope (Dec 16, 2017 - 12:00 pm)

It is not becoming more like the BVA. They haven’t hired enough people in the past few years. They didn’t hire any writers at my hearing office from 2010 until this year. Most of the hires in between have been at RCACs/NCACs/NHCs. The judicial hiring has also been pretty horrible and there has been a huge drop in support staff. Meanwhile with electronic filing, everyone is putting in tons of records, which means it takes much longer to review the files. I think they are planning on hiring more judges and writers this year to help.

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startupesq (Dec 16, 2017 - 12:29 pm)

I'd be interested in a comparison between the NCACs and the other offices because from prior experience and talking to former coworkers at the NCACs, there is a BVA-like atmosphere brewing. Further, NCACs historically receive the worst cases, which take longer to write, despite increased production over the past few years. Regardless, it does sound like SSA is more bearable than BVA.

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downwardslope (Dec 16, 2017 - 1:32 pm)

The NCACs are the worst by far. You get instructions from all over and in many cases, incomprehensible instructions are what eat up a lot of the time. I know in my office we are trying to work on those issues to try to improve production, but when you are in an NCAC/RCAC, you are at the whims of the management in the hearing offices. I know in my office, management knows that Judges Blue and Green have horrible instructions and aren’t open to changes, so they’ll hopefully try not to assign you 10 Blue and Green cases in a month. There is no way for a supervisor in an NCAC to do that because they probably don’t know Blue and Green are bad... they don’t see them enough. The RCAC might since they have a smaller geographic region to cover.

I think NHCs can be hit or miss too since you could end up with a bad judge, but my understanding is that NHCs aren’t typically first assignments. I think we’ve had people in my office go into the NHC because it’s easier to get promoted out of the NHC and it’s looked on favorably if you apply to be an ALJ.

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lawst (Dec 21, 2017 - 10:28 pm)

Why is there not a mechanism to force ALJs to use standard instructions? Illegible, incomprehensible instructions are maddening. I'm not on production yet thankfully, but I can already tell that trying to interpret messy handwriting is going to take a lot of time.

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kramer716 (Dec 16, 2017 - 7:14 pm)

Really tried to avoid making another island run, but looking like I may head back to the Pacific for my next long-term employment. Only thing that sucks is the dating scene is non-existent. I grossly underestimated my hatred for Buffalo winter, but after a week working the SBA job in Buffalo I am good with snow for another 5 years.

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kramer716 (Dec 16, 2017 - 9:48 pm)

Sorry, relevancy to this thread is the fact that I applied to every SSA job they had and heard very little. I will accept my defeat there if I can go back to fine island living.

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kramer716 (Dec 22, 2017 - 7:12 pm)

Just an FYI. The Macon SSA opening was canceled. I got that email today.

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oddis500 (Jan 6, 2018 - 3:02 pm)

IN keeping with our discussion regarding how insane USAJobs is, yesterday I received a notification that I wasn't referred for a job that I interviewed for, was offered, accepted, and have been working there for nearly two months.

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kramer716 (Feb 12, 2018 - 6:37 pm)

THe feds love to tease. I received the usual "We found you qualified for the Atlanta openings at GS-9 and GS-11. I got the referral two minutes later, but this time they actually said they referred me. I got the results of referral email four minutes after that where they stuck the knife in. Ah well it was a joyous four minutes. Hope all is well

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