SSA Tightens Up Reins Over ALJs

As we reported on Monday, several changes are expected to take place at the Social Security Administration (SSA) when it comes to administrative law judges (ALJs).

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that the agency is set to tighten its grip on the 1,500 ALJs who currently oversee Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) cases. The agency will begin to rewrite the job descriptions for ALJs, allowing investigators the ability to crack down on those who award SSDI benefits outside of “normal” numbers.

“Many judges have operated as if they were independent of the agency and awarded or denied benefits based on their own judgments,” the Journal reported. “[ALJ job descriptions] will no longer include the words ‘complete individual independence,’ and will also clarify that the judges are ‘subject to the supervision and management’ of other agency officials.”

The Journal reported that the changes stem from several SSA scandals, including the arrest of more than 70 people in Puerto Rico and the investigation of a former ALJ in West Virginia. The union that represents ALJs said that the changes would strip judges of “independence and open the process to political meddling.”

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It will be interesting to see how these changes play out. The majority of SSDI applications and reconsideration cases are denied, leading to a hearing before an ALJ.

Disabled people who are searching for work but cannot find employment because of their disabilities may be eligible for SSDI benefits, which are determined based on a person’s work history.

If you have questions about an application for disability benefits, do not hesitate to contact our Tulsa Social Security Disability lawyers for a free evaluation of your case. You may also reach us by phone at (918) 265-1404.

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security Disability lawyers

Troutman Touts: During the 2012 fiscal year, nearly 850,000 people filed a disability claim appeal.


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