Dear Mr. Traver:
I wanted to disclose a current situation and litigation to the SSA Inspector General and the Ways & Means Committee in regard to VE fraud, perjury, and ALJ tampering with VE testimony in Social Security Disability adjudications.
Both SSD Attorney Max Rae and I discovered the corruption last year, and we have both formulated responses.
Whereas, Max Rae wrote letters to the aforementioned entities, I responded to Max Rae and others as follows, as prior to my current status as a social security disability representative, I was a VE.
This letter and the book I have written reveal this true story:
Dear Mr. Rae:
Regarding the important litigation you submitted concerning the Social Security Disability (SSD) hearing in which I testified that some Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) at the SSA Offices of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) advised me to testify using the larger labor market job numbers for the Department of Labor Occupational Employment Survey (OES) Census Group rather than the significantly smaller (more accurate) job numbers for the specific Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) job listings, I apologize for my delay in formulating a response. Having been a relatively new SSA Vocational Expert (VE) at the time, I partially conceded to the ALJs under the presumption, given their high levels of attainment, that if something appeared amiss, I myself must be of some misunderstanding. In hindsight, my response was naive.
Whereas, upon my initiation as a VE, I had been trained to use the large OES group job numbers, I discovered the disparity between the large numbers versus the smaller, more accurate numbers that are indeed available for the specific DOT listings after participating in relatively few hearings. When I discovered the disparity, I began revising my testimony and ALJs began to question my “small” job numbers. One of the ALJs in particular, when I explained, responded, “Ms. Ruck, you’re opening a can of worms!”
The extent of the ALJ’s realization at that moment I cannot know; however, if my assessment was correct, the implication was that, since a majority of VEs routinely report the exaggerated sets of numbers, potentially multitudes of claimants have been defrauded due benefits. Nevertheless, some ALJs hotly, bullyishly insisted that I use the grossly inflated numbers even after they were enlightened as to the disparity. I perceive ALJ advisement and demands as to how VEs should or will testify as tampering with the witness. This and your litigation, and these ALJs should have been in very hot water. There is no telling how many remands are due, although I imagine the numbers would be staggering.
You may have heard that I discontinued serving as a VE shortly following that hearing. In part, I did so to retain my integrity given the discord I felt trying to satisfy ALJ demands that were contrary to my understanding as a VE, but also, I stopped serving as a VE because I wanted to try my hand at SSD legal representation.
I am presently representing social security disability claimants as an authorized non-attorney representative, and I am a doctoral student in process of developing my dissertation on the topic of “Amending the Medical-Vocational Guidelines to Account for Non-exertional Limitations in Social Security Disability Decisions.” The more I study SSD law, the more I realize the gravity of the implications of fraud, perjury, and ALJ tampering with the witnesses. According to Griffin (2012), some SSD claimants have died while awaiting decisions in their cases. I wonder if any of those deceased would not have died if the VEs had testified accurately and the ALJs had duly awarded favorable decisions based on accurate job numbers so that those individuals could have afforded needed medical attention.
You might find it interesting to know that, despite your very compelling letter(s), I never received a single inquiry from the SSA Inspector General’s Office. I had presumed that SSA representatives would have been especially anxious to correct any perceptions of ALJ tampering and VE fraud and perjury given the potential for widespread agency embarrassment in light of the national attention your litigation received. I am disappointed that the SSA, an agency reputed for justice, has neglected such a critical affair.
Given the imperative nature of the issue, I felt compelled to write and publish a book on the matter. I wrote my book with the intention that any interested individual would understand what has happened here. Is this corruption happening throughout the nation? It appears highly likely that it is. I feel sad that the American system has produced such a monster. Perhaps the more people aware of the problem, the greater the likelihood of resolution. My book is now available at:
Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle editions at the following link:
Paperback version through the publisher, Createspace: https://www.createspace.com/
Although I have not feared what men might do to me for doing what I perceive is right, I do thank you for your kindness in protecting my previously vulnerable position as a potential target of ALJ retribution. I hope you will not mind that I have dedicated my book to you.
Signed with Sincere Respect and Appreciation,
Amberly M. Ruck, M.S., CRC
A copy of Mr. Rae’s letter to the SSA Inspector General may be viewed at: http://ssaconnect.com/
My book cover appears as follows:
Thank you for your assistance, Mr. Traver..
As we move into the holiday season, I ask that the "trickle down" policy makers and decision authors within SSA, ODAR, OGC, and the federal court system please remember that the economic theories of conservatism have never been shown to work, and they are immoral.
"No to an economy of exclusion
53. Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.
Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.
54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.
No to the new idolatry of money
55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.
56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.
No to a financial system which rules rather than serves
57. Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside of the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs”.
58. A financial reform open to such ethical considerations would require a vigorous change of approach on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and an eye to the future, while not ignoring, of course, the specifics of each case. Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and a return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings.
No to the inequality which spawns violence
59. Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples is reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programmes or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. This is not the case simply because inequality provokes a violent reaction from those excluded from the system, but because the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root. Just as goodness tends to spread, the toleration of evil, which is injustice, tends to expand its baneful influence and quietly to undermine any political and social system, no matter how solid it may appear. If every action has its consequences, an evil embedded in the structures of a society has a constant potential for disintegration and death. It is evil crystallized in unjust social structures, which cannot be the basis of hope for a better future. We are far from the so-called “end of history”, since the conditions for a sustainable and peaceful development have not yet been adequately articulated and realized.
60. Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. This serves only to offer false hopes to those clamouring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an “education” that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders.
Some cultural challenges
61. We also evangelize when we attempt to confront the various challenges which can arise. On occasion these may take the form of veritable attacks on religious freedom or new persecutions directed against Christians; in some countries these have reached alarming levels of hatred and violence. In many places, the problem is more that of widespread indifference and relativism, linked to disillusionment and the crisis of ideologies which has come about as a reaction to anything which might appear totalitarian. This not only harms the Church but the fabric of society as a whole. We should recognize how in a culture where each person wants to be bearer of his or her own subjective truth, it becomes difficult for citizens to devise a common plan which transcends individual gain and personal ambitions.
62. In the prevailing culture, priority is given to the outward, the immediate, the visible, the quick, the superficial and the provisional. What is real gives way to appearances. In many countries globalization has meant a hastened deterioration of their own cultural roots and the invasion of ways of thinking and acting proper to other cultures which are economically advanced but ethically debilitated. This fact has been brought up by bishops from various continents in different Synods. The African bishops, for example, taking up the Encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, pointed out years ago that there have been frequent attempts to make the African countries “parts of a machine, cogs on a gigantic wheel. This is often true also in the field of social communications which, being run by centres mostly in the northern hemisphere, do not always give due consideration to the priorities and problems of such countries or respect their cultural make-up”. By the same token, the bishops of Asia “underlined the external influences being brought to bear on Asian cultures. New patterns of behaviour are emerging as a result of over-exposure to the mass media… As a result, the negative aspects of the media and entertainment industries are threatening traditional values, and in particular the sacredness of marriage and the stability of the family”."
Evangelii Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, 2013 http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium_en.html#Realities_are_more_important_than_ideas.
". . . In remarks Warren just began delivering, she strongly endorsed the push to boost Social Security benefits — in keeping with Senator Tom Harkin’s proposal to do the same — and condemned the “Chained CPI” that liberals fear Dems will embrace in strong terms. From the prepared remarks:
“The most recent discussion about cutting benefits has focused on something called the Chained-CPI. Supporters of the chained CPI say that it’s a more accurate way of measuring cost of living increases for seniors. That statement is simply not true. Chained CPI falls short of the actual increases in costs that seniors face, pure and simple. Chained CPI? It’s just a fancy way of saying cut benefits.
“The Bureau of Labor Statistics has developed a measure of the impact of inflation on seniors. It’s called the CPI-E, and, if we adopted it today, it would generally increase benefits for our retirees — not cut them.
“Social Security isn’t the answer to all of our retirement problems. We need to find ways to tackle the financial squeeze that is crushing our families. We need to help families start saving again. We need to make sure that more workers have access to better pensions. But in the meantime – so long as these problems continue to exist and so long as we are in the midst of a real and growing retirement crisis – a crisis that is shaking the foundations of what was once a vibrant and secure middle class – the absolute last thing we should be doing is talking about cutting back on Social Security.
“The absolute last thing we should do in 2013 – at the very moment that Social Security has become the principal lifeline for millions of our seniors — is allow the program to begin to be dismantled inch by inch."
Elizabeth Warren: Don’t cut Social Security. Expand it! http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2013/11/18/elizabeth-warren-dont-cut-social-security-expand-it/
Yesterday I created an account at https://www.healthcare.gov/ It told me my daughter's first name did not match her SSN (true), told me how to fix it (correctly), checked my address and corrected it, verified who I am by asking questions that only I'd know, took our entire family's information, calculated our eligibility for tax supports (we don't qualify) interfaced with the four insurance companies serving our county, told me correctly the policy prices and options from 93 plans (yes, 93 plans), and showed me plans that save us up to $6,000 a year (in comparison to our 2011 costs) with better coverage than I could ever buy before.
Everything worked perfectly. This is the federal site for Wisconsin, not a smaller state site like California or New York.
Now we are going to sit down this weekend, pick the plan that fits our family best, and buy it, using that site.