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New report suggests more consistency needed in SSA decisions


There has been a lot of talk in the news about how long it takes for a Florida resident, as well as those in other parts of the country, to get a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge after having an application for disability benefits denied.

It is still a harsh reality that many if not most applicants for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration will get denied at the outset and need an administrative review, and it is a known issue that the process of waiting for a hearing can take months or, in some parts of the country, even years.

A new report prepared by the Government Accountability Office suggests there is also another ongoing problem with respect to administrative reviews of disability applications, and that is consistency among administrative law judges.

Specifically, the report figured that while, on average, about 70 percent of applicants received benefits after a hearing, the success rate of individuals varied widely depending on who there judge was. For some judges, a little over 1 in 3 people actually received benefits, while for others, 4 out of 5 applicants were getting awarded benefits.

The report suggested there had been improvement, as the different success rates from judge to judge have tightened slightly over the past several years, suggesting that additional training and Administrative oversight have helped the problem somewhat.

Interestingly, it also seemed that, no matter the judge, applicants who took the time to hire an attorney or other representative to help them were much more likely, three times to be exact, to receive benefits after an administrative hearing than were their counterparts who chose to represent themselves.

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