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Social Security Judges Facing More Threats of Violence

Posted Nov 16, 2010 7:59 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Threats are rising against administrative law judges who hear Social Security disability cases.

There were at least 80 threats against the judges in the past year, an increase of 18 percent, the Associated Press reports. Many of the judges hear cases in leased office buildings, where just one security guard is assigned for protection. Visitors are screened, though, before entering hearing offices.

Randall Frye, a Charlotte, N.C., administrative judge who is president of the judges union, told AP the kind of threats being made are more significant than the numbers. "There seem to be more threats of serious bodily harm, not only to the judge but to the judge's family,” he said.

The AP has details on some of threats. One claimant threatened to kill herself outside the hearing office or to fly a plane into the building. Another threatened to shoot employees in the hearing office, and one said he would put his sniper skills to use. And a gunman who killed a security guard at a Nevada federal courthouse in January may have been upset about reduced Social Security benefits.

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