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Social Security Disability Judges Again Under Attack

New York City Workers' CompensationSocial Security Disability judges have a difficult job to do. They are asked to preside over a huge number of appeals because so many initial applications for benefits are denied even when people have a legitimate need for benefits. Unfortunately, as part of ongoing efforts to undermine an important lifeline providing benefits to the disabled, Social Security disability judges are continually under attack.

Social security disability attorneys in New York know that it can take about a year for a person to get a hearing after a claim for benefits is denied. It is essential that those who are disabled get a fair chance to make their argument to receive benefits. When judges are criticized for their work on hearing cases, it can result in outside pressure to deny more claims. This could mean that many people who are legitimately unable to work have a harder time getting benefits. Since more than 50 percent of applications are already denied, this is bad news for the disabled.

New Report Comes After SSD Judges

The Wall Street Journal wrote about a new report conducted by the Social Security agency's inspector general. According to the article, the report showed "a large number of Social Security disability cases approved by certain judges lacked a "well-supported rationale" for awarding benefits."

There were a total of just 44 judges over a seven year period of time who had decided an "unusually large" number of Social Security appeals cases and who had "awarded an unusually high number of benefits." This is just four percent of all of the judges in the Social Security Disability system.

The report looked at 275 different instances in which benefits had been awarded and found that there were only 31 cases where the proper processes were used. A total of 216 of the cases were found to have "quality issues" and 28 did not have complete information so the file could not be reviewed.

Based on an investigation, the inspector general found that 38 out of the 275 cases in question ultimately should have been denied. The agency then extrapolated from these findings to allege that 24,900 cases were improperly decided in favor of the disabled person. This allegedly resulted in "questionable costs" that totaled as much as $2 billion.

Of course, it is a big leap to say that because these cases were improperly decided, that there were more than 24,000 instances where mistakes were made. Further, there may be many other situations in which judges err too much on the side of caution and end up not approving benefits claims even when people do have a legitimate need to receive Social Security Disability income.

The fact is that there are millions of people who are in need of disability benefits. A relatively small number of cases should not be used to call the validity of the entire SSD appeals system into question or to put more pressure on judges to take a tougher stance on processing claims. Unfortunately, this is what is likely to occur within this political climate.

If you have suffered a disability in New York, contact the Law Offices of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP today by calling (800) 692-3717 or by visiting