Conflicting Reports on SSDI Program Future Abound

With the upcoming budget crisis in the Social Security Disability Fund taking center stage in the national debate, it should come as no surprise different news agencies express different opinions on the situation.

hot-news-2-1411510-m.jpgA recent article from Los Angeles Times business desk is asking why The Wall Street Journal used very old data as its basis for attacking the Social Security Disability system.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article at issue made claims that the system originally designed to help vulnerable members of society has “morphed” into a “benefits bonanza” at the expense of the taxpayers. Their crux of WSJ’s concerns was administrative law judges (ALJ) should not have the power to reverse denials, and that ALJs are reversing far too many denials and approving benefits awards for those who do not truly need it.

As our Boston Social Security Disability Insurance benefits lawyers know, this is not a realistic picture of what happens at an ALJ hearing. In reality, these ALJs are hired by the Social Security Administration (SSA), and rubber stamp far more denials of unrepresented claimants than they overturn denials.

Without an experienced attorney fighting for your rights to a full and fair award of Social Security disability benefits, the decks are definitely stacked against you.

According to the LA Times, WSJ used figures from 2008 to claim ALJs approved around 70 percent of claims before them, and that nine percent of judges approved 90 percent of appeals they heard.

The author of the LA Times article asked why 2008 figures were used, as they are not the latest figures available. The WSJ editors did not respond. As LA Times points out, numbers are available from as recent as 2014. These numbers reflect an approval rate of around 56 percent, which is far lower than the 2008 numbers.

WSJ also points to a problem with a major backlog in getting appeals heard by ALJs, as the average wait time is nearly 13 months.

There is no doubt this is true, but their reasoning for this delay is claimants routinely file and withdraw claims and appeals, so they can get a favorable judge more likely to grant them disability benefits. This is a phenomenon they refer to as “adjudication roulette.” While this sounds like an intriguing idea, as LA Times points out, this assertion is not supported by any evidence.

Not only is the baseless assertion unsupported by data, it is far different from the experience Boston Social Security Disability attorneys see each and every day in the hearings offices in this area.

Essentially, this appears to be yet another attempt to blame problems created by congressional budget reductions on disabled Americans who are not only genuinely entitled to disability benefits, but are also in desperate need for these benefits to take care of themselves and their families.

While this may make good headlines and help politicians get sound bites on the news, our disability attorneys work with people who are only trying to get benefits they greatly need and will fight for our clients’ rights to those benefits.

If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:
Why did the WSJ use years-old data to attack Social Security disability?, Mar. 9, 2015, LA Times

More Blog Entries:
Social Security Disability Claims Process, Jan. 23, 2015, Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Lawyer Blog

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