The National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) released a response to an opinion column written by an administrative law judge (ALJ) in the New York Times last month.
In the original opinion piece titled “Fixing Disability Courts”, ALJ D. Randall Frye, the president of the Association of Administrative Law Judges, argued that taxpayers have no rights when it comes to questioning or challenging medical evidence brought on during the appeals process involving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
“When a disputed case comes before an administrative law judge, a vast majority of claimants bring an attorney. After all, the average claim, if successful, will yield a payout of some $300,000 in lifetime benefits. With so much at stake, it’s only reasonable that a person who believes that he has wrongly been denied benefits would hire a lawyer,” Frye said in the Times. “But isn’t it equally reasonable that the taxpayers should have an attorney present to challenge a claim that might be false?”
Frye also said that ALJs do not have access to things like a claimant’s social media websites or sources to check the credibility of a person’s case. “Neither the staff members of the Social Security Administration, who review initial claims, nor judges like myself, who hear disputed cases, are allowed to look at Facebook in the context of a case,” Frye said.
In the NOSSCR response, president Cindy Berger outlined the organization’s thoughts on Frye’s claims.
“Social Security hearings are more informal and relaxed than judicial proceedings, and ALJs can engage with the claimants to best understand their limitations and make an informed decision. In the current non-adversarial hearing process, the ALJ’s role is not to oppose the claimant. The ALJ’s role is to ensure that claimants are correctly found eligible if the statutory definition of disability, as enacted by Congress, is met,” Berger said.
“In addition, as ALJ Frye points out, by the time of the hearing, the ALJ has 500 to 700 pages of case materials which include voluminous medical records to review. The ALJ has a duty to develop the evidence and evaluate the claim, and should view the claimant’s representative as an ally in marshalling the relevant evidence and focusing the issues to be addressed. It would be heedless to propose adding an additional layer of government representation and formality, as this would be inefficient, expensive, and counter-productive,” Berger said.
For more information, we have included links to both pieces at the bottom of this blog.
Locate a Tulsa Disability Attorney
The Social Security Administration uses two different tests to determine benefit eligibility, including the “Duration of Work Test” and the “Recent Work Test”, which take into account how long you have worked as well as how recently in order to determine whether you qualify for disability benefits. ALJs and the items discussed above come into play during the appeals process.
If you have questions about applying for disability benefits, contact a Tulsa Social Security disability attorney. We offer free consultations, and you may reach us by phone at (918) 265-1404. Contact us today to learn more about your rights.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers