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Were Social Security Judges Pressured to Approve Disability Claims?

Posted on Jul 08, 2013

Applying for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) takes time. Some Massachusetts applicants must wait a year or even longer for their disability claim to be approved. This can be very difficult if a person is unable to work and struggling to make ends meet.

One reason for the delay is a huge backlog in disability claims. In Fiscal Year 2011, 3.3 million Americans filed new Social Security disability claims. About two-thirds of these applicants were denied, but many filed appeals. Those who were rejected for a second time had the option of appealing their case before an administrative law judge employed by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Judges should give each case their full consideration. It is important to be sure that those who are truly unable to work get the benefits they have earned. However, a group of Social Security judges has recently told Congress that they were pressured to approve cases in order to reduce the disability claim backlog.

This confession is part of an investigation by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is trying to determine why the number of people receiving Social Security disability benefits has increased in the last decade. According to congressional investigators, 195 of the 1,560 Social Security judges approved benefits in at least 75 percent of their cases.

Congress is concerned because the Social Security’s trustees have projected that Social Security disability will run out of money in 2016. At that point, payroll taxes will cover only 80 percent of benefits. This means that the average SSDI monthly benefit of $1,130 will be reduced to $904. This is a significant drop in income.

Congress is pressuring judges for greater oversight. This may mean that more appeals will be denied. If you have been denied SSDI benefits in Massachusetts and are planning to appeal, you may need to consult with a disability benefits attorney. Call us today.

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John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law