Behind the Scenes: A typical day for Executive Director Barbara Silverstone is unpredictable

By Published On: October 14, 2021Last Updated: May 24, 20242.6 min read

What is a typical day for me as NOSSCR’s Executive Director? It’s a simple question, but it does not have a simple answer. No two days are the same for me.

I began as the staff attorney at NOSSCR in 1992. I worked hard for the organization and its members for 21 years before becoming executive director eight years ago. Yes, you read that right, I am approaching 30 years at this organization.

A typical day for me is one that does not go as planned. My job demands flexibility and responsiveness to maintain NOSSCR’s reputation as a reliable and responsive resource. The relationships we have built with Social Security Administration (SSA) leaders mean we are often given a heads-up or even asked to opine before a new form or procedure is rolled out, usually with a short deadline. I may start the day planning on writing articles for the monthly Forum and then learn about a newly proposed SSA form that requires our comments. I may plan to meet with our staff attorney to resolve some difficult member issues and then a reporter asks for our take on delays at the hearing level and their deadline is today. My plans to update chapters in our Social Security Practice Guide may be superseded by calls with our board members regarding our plans for our first in-person conference since the pandemic began in 2022.

My days often involve several meetings – meetings with staff to plan our annual conference, meetings with our staff in DC about our policy strategies, meetings with SSA leadership on improvements to the application and appeals process, or meetings with NOSSCR’s own committees. I might meet with our policy committee to discuss and decide our position on potentially controversial issues, the amicus committee that writes our Supreme Court amicus briefs, or the NextGen committee to plan events for our younger members who are the future of this organization and this field of law.

Another important part of my job is connecting different groups. Sometimes it is connecting a member to another member who can assist with a specific issue, or it may be connecting SSA with a group of members who have experience or knowledge about a new form or procedure that requires testing.

When I’m not in meetings, commenting on new developments, assisting members, making connections, writing for the Forum, or working with NOSSCR staff, I review new rulings, regulations, decisions, briefs, bills, or laws to make sure that I understand the nuances of any changes affecting this practice.

Much has changed over the years, but one thing has remained constant: every day is an honor. I get immense satisfaction seeing what NOSSCR staff and members do to improve the lives of so many people who interact with the Social Security disability programs. My busy and ever-evolving days are not easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way; they are the surest sign that we have earned a lot of trust and are doing important work.


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