Unfortunately, a report from the Social Security Administration’s inspector general is expected to show that there have been administrative law judges (ALJs) who have lacked rationale when awarding Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the agency was expected to release the report last week, which could draw scrutiny to the program. The OIG reportedly determined that there were ALJs “who had both decided an unusually large number of cases and awarded an unusually high number of benefits.”
The report was expected to show that there were 44 ALJs over the course of seven years who decided an unusually high number of cases—the 44 ALJs represent 4 percent of the agency’s allotment of judges.
According to the Journal, the OIG examined 275 cases where the ALJs in question awarded benefits, finding that in just 31 of them, the cases were “properly processed.” Additionally, the news outlet reported that 216 cases “had quality issues,” and 28 “had missing information that prevented [ALJs] from reviewing the file”.
The OIG determined that in 38 of the 275 cases, benefits should have been denied. With these statistics, the OIG reportedly determined that the SSA “improperly allowed disability benefits on approximately 24,900 cases, resulting in questionable costs of about $2 billion.”
Meanwhile, the SSA said it is working on improving its determination system and stood by the release of the report. “Decisional independence is to enhance public confidence in the essential fairness of an agency’s decision-making process,” SSA representative LaVenia LaVelle said, according to the Journal.
How Can I Collect Social Security Disability?
It is unfortunate that there appears to be ongoing issues with ALJs. It is our hope transparent studies like this will lead to improvements within the system. Sadly, however, we expect politicians to use this information to portray people who receive disability benefits in a negative light, as the 2016 election season begins to get underway.
Remember, the SSA requires SSDI applicants to show that they are unable to work. Beyond just having minor injuries or illnesses, a person must prove that his or her impairments keep him or her from doing work for more than a year and that his or her condition could result in death.
We suggest visiting our Social Security FAQ page if you have questions about benefits. Additionally, you can call our office today for a free evaluation of your case. Remember, if you are unable to work because of disabilities, you may be entitled to SSDI.
SSDI benefits are not an entitlement. To collect compensation, you must have earned work credits.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security Disability lawyers
Troutman Touts: During September 2014, more than 196,000 Americans applied for Social Security Disability benefits.