Contrary to what we see on a regular basis, congressional representatives are claiming the Social Security Administration (SSA) is “wasting billions” because their administrative law judges (ALJ) rubberstamp applications for approval on a regular basis. Some of these applications, as noted, have already been denied at least two times before being approved by ALJ. It is claimed the reason is because SSA encourages ALJs to hear as many appeals as possible.
In reality, as our Boston Social Security disability lawyers can explain, SSA is wasting a lot of money, but not through the approval of applications. It is important to understand how things work at SSA. The agency seems to encourage workers to deny at least half of all applications without regard to claimant’s qualifications for disability benefits.
Once an application is routinely denied, claimants can resubmit the application in the form of a written appeal. During the secondary review, technically the first appeal, the agency uses a peer review process at the lower level. Another SSA claims handler at the same level as the primary reviewer will reevaluate claimant’s applications. It is almost unheard of for an application initially denied to be approved at this stage in the process.
Once denied on the two lower levels, as noted by congressional representatives, claimants can demand a hearing before an ALJ. This is not due to SSA’s desire for ALJs to hear as many cases as possible, but because claimants have a right to due process of law before being denied federal benefits. On the contrary, SSA would much rather have claimants give up before having an administrative hearing.
During the hearing, SSA has a judge who works for them, a so-called vocational expert (VE) who also works for SSA, and doctors paid by SSA to offer opinions, usually consistent with denial of an application. Essentially, the decks are stacked against the claimant at all stages in the process, including the hearing before an ALJ.
With such hurdles placed in front of disabled Americans desperately in need of SSDI benefits, it is important to be as prepared as possible during the hearing. The best thing you can do if you are planning to apply for disability benefits is to contact a lawyer who regular represents people in these hearings.
If you have someone on your side who is familiar with the system and is willing to fight for your rights to a full and appropriate disability benefits award, you have a considerably better chance of having a successful outcome in the hearing.
It is best to consult with an attorney before filing your initial application, because your attorney can not only help you complete the application, but may be able to help you streamline the process, so you can get benefits faster than you would without representation, assuming an unrepresented person will even obtain benefits after any period of time.
You may be concerned with how you pay for an attorney, but, as he or she can explain, you may not have to incur any costs unless you receive 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.
More Blog Entries:
The Disabled Need More Help- Not Benefit Cuts, March 10, 2014, Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Lawyer Blog