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Fired Social Security whistleblower won’t be taking whistleblower protection training

By   /   December 13, 2016  /   News  /   No Comments

Part 48 of 61 in the series Deadly Delays

MADISON, Wis. — While all Social Security Administration employees take mandatory training on their rights and protections against whistleblower retaliation, Ron Klym is out of work nearly four months after blowing the whistle on waste, fraud and abuse at the SSA.

Photo by Ron Klym

WITH PROTECTION LIKE THIS: Long-time Social Security Administration employee Ron Klym finds himself out of a job this Christmas months after blowing the whistle on SSA abuse.

Klym,  a 16-year employee with the SSA’s Milwaukee Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, was dismissed in mid-August. His termination came about three months after Klym told Wisconsin Watchdog about due process concerns, particularly long case delays at the Milwaukee ODAR. Long before, Klym had reported misconduct and retaliation to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

For all of that, and for Christmas, Klym is out of work.

RELATED: Social Security Administration fires whistleblower

Other whistleblowers are a little more fortunate.

In August, Deborah Holland, a manager at the Madison Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, was walked out of her office by two armed security guards, at the request of the local ODAR’s chief Administrative Law Judge Debra Meachum.

Holland, a long-time SSA employee who, like Klym, had exemplary performance reviews, was removed from her management position, stripped of all supervisory duties, and temporarily placed on administrative leave.

Holland was professionally relocated after blowing the whistle on sweeping allegations of “corruption and cover-up” at the Madison office and in SSA’s Region 5. Among the many accusations to come to light in Wisconsin’s Watchdog’s investigation into the agency is that an administrative law judge sexually harassed employees and Social Security disability claimants. The judge, who according to multiple sources has been removed from his position, is accused of writing grossly inappropriate comments about claimants whose cases came before him.

Other employees have alleged bribery, cronyism, fraud and a corrupt system of rewards and punishments by the former hearing office director, Laura Hodorowicz.

And now SSA employees must complete mandatory training under the Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act, popularly known as the No FEAR Act.

The 2002 law requires federal agencies to “be accountable for violations of antidiscrimination and whistleblower protection laws.”

The No FEAR Act mandates SSA employees receive training every two years, according to an internal memo obtained by Wisconsin Watchdog. This year employees are required to watch a 21-minute video on demand. After viewing the video, employees electronically certify that they have taken the mandatory training.

For the whistleblowers who believe they have been punished instead of protected, the training is an exercise in futility.

“I do not believe in the agency I work for anymore,” said one ODAR whistleblower who claims she has routinely been disciplined after testifying in a harassment case. “I am hoping with the new administration coming in January that they will fire the corrupt (SSA) commissioner and her cronies so we can get back to what this job is supposed to be about, and the reason why I took this position instead of making more in the private sector.”

The source said she wanted to help claimants with their cases, but management has its priorities mixed up.

“Just think, if they put all of this kind of effort they do to retaliate against whistleblowers, and anyone who disagrees with them and says something to actually help the public, can you imagine the good that could happen?” the ODAR insider said.

An SSA spokesman repeatedly has said the agency does not talk about personnel matters or ongoing investigations. There are several ongoing investigations into Region 5 ODAR offices.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has said whistleblower protection laws have been on the book for 100 years, and new laws constantly are being created. The problem, the senator said, is making sure federal agencies follow the laws and punish those who break them.

But who will protect the whistleblowers? Not the SSA, sources say.

“They are the judge and jury making determinations without any reference to legality or proper procedure,” Klym said in August of SSA’s administrative staff.

Part of 61 in the series Deadly Delays
  1. Deadly Delay: Whistleblower alleges misconduct, incompetence in Social Security office
  2. Johnson seeks answers to Social Security whistleblower’s charges
  3. Social Security disability program has plenty of problems elsewhere
  4. Social Security whistleblower placed on administrative leave
  5. Social Security disability agency has history of punishing whistleblowers
  6. Senator to Social Security Administration official: ‘I would say the system is rigged’
  7. Whistleblower: ‘I want to do my work without fear of retaliation’
  8. Social Security whistleblowers ‘coming out of the woodwork’
  9. Social Security whistleblower suspended after going public with complaints
  10. Social Security whistleblower questioned by investigators after going public
  11. Social Security whistleblower now faces firing
  12. Social Security officials not answering questions about whistleblower retaliation
  13. ‘Culture of corruption and cover-up’ alleged in Madison Social Security office
  14. Ron Johnson: We’re tracking down abuse allegations in Social Security agency
  15. Senate committee presses for answers from troubled Social Security Administration
  16. Sources: Social Security judge suspended in wake of Madison scandal
  17. Attorney seeks appeal of decisions by Social Security judge accused of ‘sexy’ comments
  18. Social Security appeals judge pleads guilty to retaliation charge
  19. More retaliation despite investigation, Social Security office sources say
  20. Openly gay whistleblower at Social Security office claims intimidation, retaliation
  21. Wheels of justice turn frustratingly slow for Social Security whistleblowers
  22. Baldwin joins Johnson in calling for ‘immediate action’ on Social Security misconduct claims
  23. Documents: Social Security judge wrote claimant was ‘rode hard and put away wet’
  24. Social Security judge investigated for harassment heading back to hearings
  25. Social Security judge accused of misconduct refuses to step aside, sources say
  26. Whistleblower at scandal-plagued Social Security office seeks restraining order against manager
  27. Whistleblower report alleges widespread waste, fraud, abuse at Social Security office
  28. Sen. Johnson to Social Security commissioner: Retaliation will not be tolerated
  29. Baldwin warns Social Security Administration not to retaliate
  30. Social Security Administration fires whistleblower
  31. Who is protecting Social Security whistleblowers?
  32. Sources: Social Security judge accused of racial, sexual remarks removed from hearings
  33. Social Security office director removed from Madison facility, sources say
  34. Senate committee probe into Social Security whistleblower retaliation continues
  35. Madison Social Security office like ‘giant dysfunctional family,’ source says
  36. Damage spreads at scandal-plagued Social Security office
  37. Fired Social Security whistleblower gets no help from federal whistleblower protector
  38. One month later, Social Security whistleblower still without job, pay, answers
  39. Federal agents stepping up investigation into troubled Social Security offices
  40. Investigation into troubled Social Security offices in a ‘holding pattern’
  41. Recent weeks bring shake-up at scandal-plagued Social Security offices
  42. Top judges resign at troubled Social Security Chicago headquarters
  43. Social Security chief judge retiring amid cloud of scandal
  44. Troubled Social Security disability claims agency promotes ‘positive organization culture’
  45. Senate inquiry into scandal-plagued Social Security offices plods along
  46. Social Security whistleblower: ‘Everything has been compromised’
  47. Sources: Social Security judge accused of sexual harassment removed from Madison office
  48. Fired Social Security whistleblower won’t be taking whistleblower protection training
  49. Letter: Social Security judge under fire granted power to decide
  50. Sources: Social Security judge accused of deciding cases on sex appeal retires
  51. Johnson seeks GAO review of alleged Social Security ‘shell game’
  52. Social Security judge demanded $65,000 expanded bathrooms
  53. Investigation finds abuse, law-breaking, no retaliation at Madison Social Security office
  54. Report: Social Security managers gambled, watched Packers at Lambeau on taxpayer dime
  55. Inspector General releases major findings of probe into troubled Social Security office
  56. Social Security whistleblower waiting for answers in privacy breach case
  57. A whistleblower’s story: Paying the price for shining a light
  58. Fired SSA employee featured in Watchdog investigation is ‘Whistleblower of the Year’
  59. Social Security whistleblower calls out agency, media in receiving award from journalists
  60. SSA whistleblowers ask, where’s the justice?
  61. Probes into troubled Social Security offices crawling along

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M.D. Kittle is bureau chief of Wisconsin Watchdog and First Amendment Reporter for Watchdog.org. Kittle is a 25-year veteran of print, broadcast and online media. He is the recipient of several awards for journalism excellence from The Associated Press, Inland Press, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, and others. He is also a member of Investigative Reporters & Editors. Kittle's extensive series on Wisconsin's unconstitutional John Doe investigations was the basis of a 2014 documentary on Glenn Beck's TheBlaze. His work has been featured in Town Hall, Fox News, NewsMax, and other national publications, and his reporting has been cited by news outlets nationwide. Kittle is a fill-in talk show host on the Jay Weber Show and the Vicki McKenna Show in Milwaukee and Madison.