Remembering TCPaul, 2016-2019

SSA Attorney Advisor Woodlawn vs Wabash location (Baltimore Area)

What are the differences in the two locations? Is one bette jdforever04/07/19
I have experience at SSA. Below are my responses to your que john0904/07/19
the appeals council tends to have more opportunities for gs hopelesslyunemployed04/07/19
Yes, the Appeals Council has more GS-13 and GS-14 positions john0904/07/19
Baltimore has one of the highest crime rates in the nation a catwoman33304/07/19
I also would never choose to live in or near Baltimore becau john0904/07/19
The path to promotion is made more difficult by the nepotism booyeah04/08/19
Neither location is a garden; both are in busy not so great toooldtocare04/08/19
Wow. Thank you all for your feedback. I only have a few day jdforever04/08/19
jdforever (Apr 7, 2019 - 8:11 pm)

What are the differences in the two locations? Is one better than the other? If so, why, how?

Also, the position I am considering is at the Appeals Council. I have several questions:

1. Are the metrics attainable?

2. Is this position stressful to you? I have three small children.

3. How hard is it to transfer to another location? (out of state)

4. Are you micromanaged?

5. I heard this office is "not professional". Has anyone heard the same?

6. I have read that the Appeal Council positions are better than Hearing Offices. Have you heard the same?


Thanks

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john09 (Apr 7, 2019 - 8:50 pm)

I have experience at SSA. Below are my responses to your questions.

1. The minimum production standard at the Appeals Council is attainable within a 40 hour week. This means that you probably will not have too much difficultly keeping your job and attaining the maximum GS-12 promotion level. Keep in mind, however, that promotions to GS-13 are very competitive. To be competitive for the GS-13, you need to have ultra high production numbers, which may not be attainable for you.

2. The position is generally not stressful, though you need to carefully watch your production numbers on a monthly basis. Poor productivity for more than one month can adversely affect your overall production numbers, lead to warnings/counselings, and impact your chances of promotion to the GS-13 level.

3. The Appeals Council has offices in Maryland and Virginia. You can live where ever you want so long as your address is within two hours commute from your assigned office. If you want to transfer to a different state, say California, you will need to transfer to a hearing office.

4. Micromanagement is in the eye of the beholder. As stated above, your production numbers will be monitored on a monthly basis for production. You will also need to clock in and out and take lunch breaks during the set time range. Other than that, the level of micromanagement depends on the personality of your immediate supervisor.

5. I have heard bad things about SSA offices in Maryland, but the rumors pertain to decision writers, not Appeals Council positions.

6. One isn't necessarily better than the other. It is difficult to characterize SSA hearing offices because there are many hearing offices across the country. Some hearing offices are fine, while others are downright terrible. The working environment at the Appeals Council for the most part is fine, but you will probably feel that you are expendable. Your worth to the agency, whether at a hearing office or the Appeals Council is based on your production number.

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hopelesslyunemployed (Apr 7, 2019 - 9:16 pm)

the appeals council tends to have more opportunities for gs 13 and higher promotions, but the hearings level generally has more overtime (can work ot any day of the week at hearings level, even from home, which is nice

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john09 (Apr 7, 2019 - 10:06 pm)

Yes, the Appeals Council has more GS-13 and GS-14 positions available, but the availability of these positions is dependent on the agency’s budget. Even if your production numbers are astronomical, you could be stuck at the GS-12 level for years.

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catwoman333 (Apr 7, 2019 - 9:05 pm)

Baltimore has one of the highest crime rates in the nation and Woodlawn is just 21 miles away, so I would never consider working/living in either location.

I've never worked for SSA but have read others' comments on various blogs and heard from SSA employees about their experiences (pro and con). A big plus is telework policy (being allowed to work from home after passing an initial probationary period). I would think that would be a big plus to anyone with 3 kids.

The biggest drawbacks are boredom due to repetitive work nature, high volume production demands, low pay scale (AAs usually top out at GS12), and lack of opportunity for promotion within SSA. The people I know at SSA don't feel micromanaged, but perhaps their supervisors and SSA offices are just more laid back than Baltimore or Woodlawn. Not sure what you mean by "not professional" but I would consider that a red flag I wouldn't want to ignore.

Good luck with your decision.

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john09 (Apr 7, 2019 - 10:00 pm)

I also would never choose to live in or near Baltimore because of the high crime rate. However, some of the suburbs of Baltimore are safe and generally fine for families.

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booyeah (Apr 8, 2019 - 10:06 am)

The path to promotion is made more difficult by the nepotism - check out the number of promotees who are spouses or relatives. Also Woodlawn is directly adjacent to Baltimore, literally zero miles away. SSA employees were dismissed early in 2015 amid fears that the riots would come to Security Mall.

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toooldtocare (Apr 8, 2019 - 12:29 pm)

Neither location is a garden; both are in busy not so great areas, but would guess Woodlawn is slightly better than Wabash Ave. You're not going to want to live near either location.

Know people who worked for years at SSA in Woodlawn, all the way to retirement(many parents of friends), at Woodlawn, but this was years ago and they weren't doing your type of job. But lots of people there are lifers, for better or worse. And Woodlawn is MASSIVE; years ago rush hour was bad, can't imagine what it's like now. And metro Baltimore is terrible for traffic congestion.
https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-commute-times-20180510-story.html
And my recollection is that for Woodlawn, there is little mass transit other than bus service.

If it's a firm job offer, you'd be well advised to visit both and see for yourself. If you're used to driving in LA, no big deal, but otherwise the traffic(and home prices and general cost of living) may surprise you.

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jdforever (Apr 8, 2019 - 1:40 pm)

Wow. Thank you all for your feedback. I only have a few days to make a decision. Hopefully, it will be the right one. Does anyone currently work at the Appeals Council in Baltimore?

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