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Why Have the Judges Fallen?: Expert Witness Testimony of Corruption in Social Security Disability Adjudications
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About the Author
Amberly M. Ruck, M.S., CRC is President of Ruck & Ruck Social Security Disability Representatives and an authorized social security disability representative. She holds a Master of Science Degree in Rehabilitation Counselor Education from Western Oregon University (2005) and is a nationally Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC). She is a doctoral student at Northcentral University of Prescott Valley, Arizona, studying Business Administration with a specialization in Public Administration. She founded The Job Lady, Inc. as a private vocational consulting firm in 2005 and added Ruck & Ruck Social Security Disability Representatives in August of 2012. Author Note: In response to Max Rae's questions as posed in his review of this book: Why did I wait as long as I did to publicize this information? I wanted to allow the SSA inspector general’s office time to resolve the problem discreetly. The fact that I am now representing claimants in hearings before Social Security judges is not the reason for my unwillingness to name the judges who tampered with my testimony during the time I worked as a vocational expert. The reason I have not disclosed and will not disclose the names of the judges is that I want to show them grace, the same grace I would request if I had made such a mistake, the same grace I do request because I have made mistakes. This publication disclosed the information in a manner suggestive of repentance, and I simply ask that the judges repent from this erroneous behavior. Finally, the reason I copyrighted this publication for sale is that the extensive time commitment required in writing as complete a narrative detracted from my ability to perform my other (paying) duties. Like most people, I have to make a living. Although I do not allow unauthorized reproduction of this entire publication, I do give permission for individuals to copy, paste, and distribute my single letter to Max Rae which is contained in the Preface of this book. I give individuals permission to copy and share the description of this book as reflected at Amazon.com. I do otherwise plan on marketing this publication heavily so that the widespread distribution needed to facilitate correction will ensue. Thank you for reading "Why Have the Judges Fallen?"
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At hearings VEs traditionally come up with large numbers of jobs that the claimants supposedly can do based on the ALJs' inaccurate residual functional capacity statements which ignore medical opinions of treating doctors and the claimants' subjective complaints. Notwithstanding the false hypotheticals, Ruck makes clear that the large numbers of jobs would not be quite so large if the VEs used the specific numbers for DOT jobs.
Additionally as David Traver explains in his Social Security Disability Advocate's Handbook, § 2004, citing Donahue v. Barnhart, 279 F.3d 441 (7th Cir. 2002), failure to object to the numbers that VEs present at the hearing can result in the loss of appeal rights.
The title asserts that the Social Security judges have failed, and that is almost universally true. But they have not failed alone. Nearly all of the so called “independent” vocational experts have knowingly provided testimony far beyond their competence to please the expectations of those who pay them. Those supervising the hearing process have done next to nothing to set standards of competence for providing job numbers testimony or to equip judges to act impartially in requiring it. There has been no meaningful oversight, either within the agency or from the Congress, to assure fairness. Everyone has their excuse, but wherever one finds institutional dysfunction, individuals’ failures and rationalizations are the cells which together live to comprise the beast.
Ruck describes her struggle towards individual discernment, accountability to self, and dissent without concern for self interest. Yet I am troubled that, despite the urgency of the problem, it took her more than a year and a half to respond following the complaint to the Inspector General. The fact that she now represents claimants in hearings before Social Security judges may explain her unwillingness to name the judges who tampered with her testimony while working as their paid expert. And the fact that she has copyrighted her confession for sale seriously hampers the widespread distribution needed to facilitate correction.
Ruck’s essay is brief, with only 26 substantive pages and a background chapter. It needs to be read by everyone with responsibility for the Social Security hearing process. It also merits the attention of students of Sociology and institutional dysfunction.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book and it is dedicated to me.