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Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is an independent agency of the United States federal government that administers Social Security, a social insurance program consisting of retirement, disability, and survivors' benefits. To qualify for these benefits, most American workers pay Social Security taxes on their earnings; future benefits are based on the employees' contributions. (Source: Wikipedia)

Perhaps you are working for the SSA or interested in working for the SSA. Here is a forum to share your experience with the SSA.

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Siddhartha  
#1 Posted : Thursday, March 03, 2011 11:51:39 AM(UTC)
Siddhartha

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Did anyone have a phone interview for an Attorney-Advisor position with ODAR-Office of Appellate Operations?  The positions are two-year appointments at the Arlington or Falls Church locations.  I had a phone interview about two weeks ago and have yet to hear anything.  
zzz...  
#2 Posted : Friday, March 04, 2011 6:03:35 AM(UTC)
zzz...

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I had the same interview with the same no response.  If you hear anything good or bad please post so that I know they notified candidates.  Thanks and good luck.
Siddhartha  
#3 Posted : Friday, March 04, 2011 7:34:52 AM(UTC)
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ZZZ...

Thanks for replying.  I will definitely post if/when I hear something.  Please do the same!  Thanks and good luck to you as well.


zzz...  
#4 Posted : Tuesday, March 08, 2011 4:01:42 AM(UTC)
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Any word?
Siddhartha  
#5 Posted : Wednesday, March 09, 2011 6:52:33 AM(UTC)
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I phoned the contact person late last week and left a voice-mail.  On Monday, I received an e-mail informing me that the selection decisions would be made in the next two weeks.  Sorry for not posting this news earlier.  In any event, it seems we may still be in the running.      
zzz...  
#6 Posted : Wednesday, March 09, 2011 7:01:24 AM(UTC)
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Thanks for the update.  I guess no news is good news, in this case.  If you hear anything else, good or bad, let me know.  Good luck!
hiyred  
#7 Posted : Wednesday, March 09, 2011 11:23:07 AM(UTC)
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I had the same interview. Was it for the temporary placements not to exceed 2 yrs in VA? If so, I can tell you that I was offered a position yesterday by phone. It starts in 2 weeks, and I'm not sure whether or not it's a good idea given that the term isn't fixed and, from what I understand, there are no benefits with this position because it is technically "temporary" (though I do need to confirm that suspicion with HR). Also, I suspect that the temporary nature means that I wouldn't be eligible for promotion or transfer on the basis of my status there.  

So, it would amount to really high-paid contract work.
zzz...  
#8 Posted : Wednesday, March 09, 2011 10:38:08 PM(UTC)
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That's the interview I was speaking of.  Congratulations (if you take it) and thanks for posting.
hiyred  
#9 Posted : Thursday, March 10, 2011 12:08:20 AM(UTC)
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I don't know what your situation is, but let me give you a little background for your own info that might help give you some input to their hiring practices.

I am currently employed at a small firm on the East Coast. I do a variety of civil litigation and singlehandedly run our SSDI practice. I've interviewed with the SSA before for non-temporary/term attorney adviser positions in different states in the last year, though this is my first offer. Given that I'm already employed, it won't hurt me as much to turn it down. I didn't even really apply for this position either--they contacted me because I was in the recruitment database already and were pretty vague about the whole "temporary appointment" thing. Frankly, after reading the info sheet on temporary employees at USAjobs, I think that the complete lack of a benefit package in this position coupled with the uncertainty of the length of employment and lack of the ability to qualify for interagency promotion/appointment/transfer/reassignment makes this position only an attractive option if you are currently unemployed, live in the area, and are in dire straits. It's like high-paid contract work (except that if I was a temp in my state, I'd get a benefits package). If that's your situation and you get an offer when I turn mine down, then I suggest you ask HR a million questions about the limitations of temporary appointments, bank as much of that GS-11 salary as humanly possible, and keep networking/applying while you work there.
phlambassador  
#10 Posted : Friday, March 11, 2011 7:33:33 AM(UTC)
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I also got an offer on Tuesday.  With much reluctance, I turned it down.  I just wasn't ready to pick up my life, quit my job, and relocate to DC in about two weeks without ever having met the people I'd be working with.  That, plus the whole two year thing gave me kind of a bad vibe.  I am still stunned at how inflexible they were.  I really would love to work as an attorney in the federal government, but I just felt that this wasn't my way to get there.  I hope that some folks who really need the work get this.  Good luck to all of us, I guess.
AAJ_to_be  
#11 Posted : Friday, March 11, 2011 7:45:20 AM(UTC)
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Hey all, I just wanted to shed some light on the confusion.  I am a current attorney with ODAR.  SSA's new policy is to hire all their attorneys as not to exceed 2 years.  This is a method they use to be able to fire bad employees or not renew them after 2 years.  If you do your job, you will almost always get a permanent after the 2 years.  Inside SSA, its really a probationary period.  The NTE 2 came about after SSA had their hands full with bad employees they couldn't fire.  Do not weight your decision solely on the fact that this is term position.  I spoke with an administrative appeals judge who said he started out in a NTE 2 job.  It's just an old strategy the SSA use more now that there is a lot of applicants and they don't really know who they are hiring.  Think about it.  Your interview was simply a phone interview and an offer was later made.  When I was working in the private sector, an interview process is usually brutal.  I remember a 3 stage interview in the private sector that was followed by an interrogation of 11 attorneys trying to figure out if I am the right fit.  SSA does not have the resources to waste so much time interviewing so they simply use NTE 2 to save them  some headaches with horrible employees
phlambassador  
#12 Posted : Friday, March 11, 2011 7:59:50 AM(UTC)
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That's all very interesting, but it's not what I was told over the phone.  I asked repeatedly what made the two years go longer, and performance was never offered as a reason.  I was told it was related to funding.  Mostly, the HR rep didn't really have much to say about the two year thing, or anything else really.  I'm disappointed because it's a job I would take if I had just a little more confidence that it was right move.  I think my experience would have made me a great addition to the OAO.  But I just can't pack up and go in a week for a temporary position.  I wish the SSA had understood that.
AAJ_to_be  
#13 Posted : Friday, March 11, 2011 8:06:32 AM(UTC)
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I hate it when they have an idiot HR specialist answering questions.  I had to ask judges and higher ups in Falls Church to tell me the truth.  The HR specialist is just an operational employee just trying to send out as many offer letters as possible.  I had to use my contacts because my HR specialist was actually looking down on the position because it is an NTE 2 year.  Its sad you were somewhat misled.  Yes funding has something to do with it but almost everyone who started NTE 2 years were given permanents in OAO.  You have to talk to more powerful people to get the scoop.  Dont rely solely on what HR specialist is saying.  I talked with an SSA executive who said that the HR specialists only have limited knowledge of certain areas.  This is just the way business is done now.  NTE 2 years aka probationary period. 
phlambassador  
#14 Posted : Friday, March 11, 2011 8:14:24 AM(UTC)
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Even allowing that you have some insider information, "not to exceed two years" which was specifically highlighted on the job announcement, by the way, does not in any way imply "two year probationary period."  If the ALJs think that an NTE 2 years announcement is a good way to convey a new general two year perfrmance-related probationary period, then they just scared off a bunch of great new attorneys.

I think you've got your facts wrong. 
AAJ_to_be  
#15 Posted : Friday, March 11, 2011 8:21:07 AM(UTC)
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That's all fine and dandy if you think i'm wrong.  over 75 percent of ODAR employees that I had the pleasure of working with were once on a 2 year NTE and are now permanent employees.  I know that HR's lack of information scares off good prospective employees.  Most people who make the final decision about converting employees to permanent cannot be wrong.  HR doesnt even decide to make people permanent.  Its management where an individual is working in that will decide that and let HR know.  Like I said HR is operational. they only do what hiring officials tell them to do.  There was a hearing office that just turned ALL of their 2 year NTE into permanents. Go figure. I bet they too were initially afraid but look at them now.
AAJ_to_be  
#16 Posted : Friday, March 11, 2011 8:23:16 AM(UTC)
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I started as 2 year NTE and was always nervous about it.  However, I went in and worked my butt off.  Management LOVED my work ethic and has recommended me on numerous occasions.  I decided to take the 2 year NTE because at that time, the economy was bad and my fellow graduates were struggling for jobs.  I took a risk and it paid off
phlambassador  
#17 Posted : Friday, March 11, 2011 8:23:58 AM(UTC)
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So here's why I know you're wrong.   The person I spoke with on the phone said "this is the first time we've done the two year program." AND I actually have a good friend that used to work in OAO ODAR.  She said her offer had no such NTE two year thing.  None.  Even her friends who still work there had never heard of it.
AAJ_to_be  
#18 Posted : Friday, March 11, 2011 8:30:52 AM(UTC)
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it may be the first time OAO does it but the Hearing Offices had it in place for many years now.  I know because I worked in a hearing office before and thats how its done. but its fine. if you turned down the job simply because of that, then thats your own decision. i was just hear to tell people to not just turn down a job solely on the NTE 2 year thing. 
phlambassador  
#19 Posted : Friday, March 11, 2011 8:31:20 AM(UTC)
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Here's a bold idea for how to retain good attorneys:
How about not calling people on Tuesday and asking them to pick up and leave for DC in two weeks.  How about maybe letting people discuss it with partners, friends, relatives, mentors?
I think that idea, and not an ominous temporary agreement, will get some great people in there.
AAJ_to_be  
#20 Posted : Friday, March 11, 2011 8:35:32 AM(UTC)
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I 100% agree with you.  That thing they do boils my blood.  I have been saying that for some time now and it seems like i'm preaching to the choir.  I honestly feel that the people making those decisions don't give a damn because they already have their cushy six figure jobs and dont care if you only have 2 weeks to move.  a HR specialist told me that if anyone has a problem with the reporting date, that maybe its not the right fit for them.  WHO THE HELL SAYS THAT.
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