Deadly Delays at the SSA -


In May, Wisconsin Watchdog broke news of a scandal at the Social Security Administration’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) in Madison and Milwaukee, uncovering a million-plus case deadlydelaysbacklog as well as serious allegations of abuse, mismanagement, and harassment.

Our coverage has inspired SSA whistleblowers across the country to go public with their complaints and share their stories with us. Sadly, that hasn’t stopped the agency from retaliating against them, and in some cases it has intensified.

Administrative Law Judge John Pleuss is accused of deciding disability cases based on the appearance and race of claimants and of making highly inappropriate and sexually-charged comments about them. Documents obtained first by Watchdog show the judge using terms such as “cute,” “buxom,” and “gorilla-like,” to describe claimants. Surprisingly, Pleuss is still deciding cases.

Our breaking coverage has led to U.S. Senator Ron Johnson’s Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing directly from employees at ODAR, resulting in federal briefings by SSA officials about the million-plus case backlog plaguing the disability claim system.


Key Articles

whistle-blowers2-15/4/16 – Deadly Delay: Whistleblower alleges misconduct, incompetence in Social Security office
5/26/16 – Social Security whistleblower questioned by investigators after going public
5/27/16 – Social Security whistleblower now faces firing
6/10/16 – ‘Culture of corruption and cover-up’ alleged in Madison Social Security office
6/14/16 – Senate committee presses for answers from troubled Social Security Administration
6/20/16 – Attorney seeks appeal of decisions by Social Security judge accused of ‘sexy’ comments
6/23/16 – More retaliation despite investigation, Social Security office sources say
6/28/16 – Openly gay whistleblower at Social Security office claims intimidation, retaliation
7/26/16 – Baldwin joins Johnson in calling for ‘immediate action’ on SSA misconduct claims
8/23/16 – Sources: Social Security judge accused of racial, sexual remarks removed from hearings
8/24/16 – Social Security office director removed from Madison facility, sources say

View all articles in the Deadly Delays at the SSA series

About the Author

M.D. Kittle is a 25-year veteran of radio, newspaper and online journalism. In July 2011, he joined as bureau chief for Wisconsin. Beyond being published in Wisconsin’s daily newspapers and in multimedia news outlets, Kittle’s work has appeared on Fox News, and in Human Events, Reason Magazine, Newsmax and Town Hall. His special investigation into a politically charged John Doe probe, “Wisconsin’s Secret War,” was the basis of a 2014 documentary on Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze. Kittle has made several appearances on Fox News, including “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.” His resume includes multiple awards for journalism excellence from The Associated Press, Inland Press, Wisconsin Broadcast Association and other journalism associations. Contact Kittle at

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