Judges accused of rubber-stamping Social Security claims

Residents of Missouri who are waiting for approval of Social Security Disability claims may be interested in the findings of a new report issued by Republican members of the House Oversight Committee. According to the report, 191 of the more than 1,400 administrative judges employed by the Social Security Administration approved more than 85 percent of disability cases between 2005 and 2013 with at least one judge reportedly approving 99 percent of his cases. The congressional representatives behind the report claim that the data shows that these judges have been engaged in rubber-stamping these claims without proper scrutiny at a cost of billions to a program that is already struggling financially.

State-level employees must reject Social Security Disability claims at least once before they reach the desks of administrative judges, and one judge cited a lack of legal training on their part as a reason for frequently reversing initial denials before the Oversight Committee. The report stated that judges' quick approvals often resulted from an interest in expediting processing and minimizing backlogs that could result from the detailed writings required to explain denials.

If Missouri administrative judges feel political pressure because of this report, then some may decide to subject claims to far harsher and more meticulous scrutiny. Coupled with a nationwide average approval rate of 56 percent in 2013, disabled citizens may feel doubtful about their chances to receive approval for a valid future claim.

Acceptance of a Social Security Disability claim can be critical to a deserving, struggling family's future well-being. If judges treat claims more rigorously because of the House's report, an attorney's representation at an appeal hearing might improve a claimant's chances of success by a considerable amount.

Source: ABC News, "Report: Social Security Judges Rubber-Stamp Claims", Stephen Ohlemacher, June 10, 2014

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