Social Security Administration Takes Action to Stop Threats to Employees
The number of threats made to SSA employees by visitors to local SSA offices has jumped 43 percent in 2010. The rash of nearly 2,800 incidents has led the Social Security Administration (SSA) to take serious action. They have put together a new rule intended to lessen, if not stop all together, a disconcerting trend of animosity toward federal employees.
The rule, In essence, is a nationwide ban that would apply to anyone who threatens an SSA employee. The ban is not limited to in-person threats. The rule also applies to threats made during a phone call or through correspondence. If a person is banned because of their inappropriate actions, they will have the right to appeal the decision. But, the real point of the rule is to stop the threats from happening at all.
In keeping with SSA’s Open Government initiative, the public is encouraged to review Docket No. SSA-2011-0052: “Protecting the Public and Our Personnel to Ensure Operational Effectiveness” and submit comments on the new rule. The deadline for comments is November 1, 2011.
Part of the rule explains its necessity: “Preventing violence is a growing concern for all Federal agencies, particularly the Social Security Administration. We touch the lives of virtually every American, often during times of personal hardship, transition, and uncertainty. . . As our workloads have risen in recent years, the number of reported threats to our employees has increased significantly . . . We have increased the security measures in our field and hearing offices. We are using the resources Congress provided to handle disability benefit claims more quickly and accurately; we expect these actions will minimize the anxiety that claimants may experience when they seek benefits from us. As we work to make our offices safer, we must consider risks to the public and our personnel, as well as our service delivery obligations. When we deem it necessary, we may ban an individual from entering our offices.”
In January, Jon Mayhew, president of Freedom Disability, commented on the growing incidence of threats made by disability claimants toward SSA employees and Administrative Law Judges, saying, “I can understand people who take issue with SSA’s strict bureaucratic system, and that’s fine. But, in this post 9/11 era, making threats is serious business.”
It is so serious, that SSA has been forced to take strict steps to ensure public safety and SSA efficiency. An interim rule has already been in effect since September 2, 2011 with notices posted at local offices. The final rule will be established after the public has a chance to submit comments by November 1, 2011.
How to Submit Comments to the Social Security Administration:
By Fax: 410-966-2830
By Mail: Office of Regulations, Social Security Administration, 107 Altmeyer Building, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21235-6401
Online at http://www.regulations.gov (preferred method)
Refer to Docket No. SSA-2011-0052