A report by the Office of Inspector General for the Social Security Administration concludes that 44 judges approved an usual amount of disability claims - much higher than normal. According to the report, these rate of approval for the judges in question was around 85 percent for disability benefits they ruled on at least two years out of the last seven. These 44 administrative judges are about 4 percent of the total group of judges who hear Social Security cases.
One member of Congress claimsheavy case loads for judges have led SSA to emphasize quantity over quality. Another claims the high rates of approval mean the judges must be rubber-stamping decisions.
A spokesperson for the SSA, on the other hand, notes that administrative law judges are given a large degree of independence. Judges are expected to decide each case on the merits, and decisions must not be based on outside pressure to achieve predetermined results.
Of course, a high rate of benefits approval does not mean that all the claims approved by the judges in question should not have been approved. In fact, the Inspector General's Office investigators reviewed 275 of the approved claims by the 44 judges in question. Of these, they concluded only 38 should clearly have been denied.
The Inspector General's Office report may result in more claims being denied by judges. This means it is more important than ever for a claimant to make sure their claim is thoroughly documented. An experienced Social Security Disability law firm can help make sure a claim is properly supported by medical evidence before it is submitted.
Source: MyFoxTampaBay.com, "IG: Improper disability claims cost taxpayers $2B," Stephen Ohlemacher, Nov. 14, 2014