social security ALJs

The Results of Your Disability Appeal May Depend on the Judge

by Staff | July 5th, 2011

The Social Security Administration is beginning to look more closely at the approval rate discrepancy amongst its administrative law judges (ALJs), reports USA Today.

Whereas a judge’s numbers were once by request only, they are now listed on the agency’s website each month.

There are currently 1,400 ALJs who hear appeals from people who disagree with the agency denying their initial application. By the time an appeal comes before an ALJ, it would have already been denied twice by a federally funded agency in each state.

USA Today points out that some of these judges approve almost every appeal that comes before them while others deny almost every appeal. A West Virginia judge was recently outed in a Wall Street Journal feature after he approved every appeal for a year straight. He has since been put on administrative leave.

Though the agency aims for more transparency, Social Security Commissioner Michael Asture is quoted as saying, “Congress has been pretty enthusiastic about the idea of ALJ independence.”

Rather than trying to assert more control over judges’ decisions, the agency has worked to reduce the average amount of time applicants spend awaiting a decision. The wait time has dropped from an average of 532 days in August 2008 to 354 days last month.

Read more.

Do you think the denial and approval process amongst administrative law judges needs to be streamlined? Or is the democratic nature of the process in line with our country’s philosophy?

If you need help with your Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.