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Social Security disability judges accused of laxity in approving claims

The Social Security Administration, it seems, has been in the news a lot of late. Much of the news has to do with criticisms of the way things are being handled, investigations into the program, and the financial challenges looming on the horizon. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee recently held a hearing in which administrative law judges with the Social Security Administration.

The subject of the hearing was to investigate accusations that judges approve claims for disability without adequately considering the merits of each case. A total of four administrative law judges were part of the hearing, though congressional investigators claims almost 200 judges are guilty of rubber-stamping disability claims. 

One of the judges apparently approved 99 percent of the cases that came before him between 2005 and 2013. Another approved 95 percent over the same period. According to a report, a total of 191 judges approved over 85 percent of their cases for a total of $153 billion in lifetime benefits.

The Social Security disability appeals process, as some readers know, involves multiple steps, beginning with a reconsideration. The latter involves a complete review of one’s application by an individual who had no part in the initial decision. After that, one may appeal to have a hearing with an administrative law judge. The hearing is an important opportunity for applicants who have been denied benefits to present their case in person. In our next post, we’ll take a further look at the SSDI hearing process and what lies beyond it in terms of appeals. 

Source: Life HealthPRO, “SSDI judge describes lack of information,” Allison Bell, June 10, 2014.Houston Chronicle, “Report: Social Security judges rubber-stamp claims,” Stephen Ohlemacher, June 10, 2014.Social Security Administration, “The Appeals Process,” Accessed July 3, 2014. 

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