Report: Errors abound in Social Security disability decisions

For those in Wisconsin who have ever been in need of Social Security disability benefits, it must make your blood boil when you read news stories about SSDI fraud–people who do not deserve these benefits somehow making their way through the tedious application process. Many of us wonder how legitimate claims can be so often denied while fraudulent claims are approved.

It appears a new congressional report may have an explanation. The administrative law judges who rule on SSDI claims are not properly reviewing all of the evidence, according to the Republican staff of the Senate permanent subcommittee on investigations that did a an evaluation of a sample of 300 cases.

Of those cases, congressional staff found that more than a quarter were errantly decided. In these cases, benefits were awarded before judges paid any attention to insufficient evidence. One could fathom that there are thus many claims that do contain sufficient evidence of a disability, but judges are not taking the time to review this either–resulting in an improper denial of benefits.

Some believe the judges may be making the very serious mistakes because they are under pressure to work their way through an immense backlog of claims. SSDI administrative law judges are reportedly expected to rule on 500 or more cases per year. According to the congressional report, one judge actually decided an average of 1,800 cases per year for three years in a row.

It is very difficult and tedious to put together an SSDI claim that accurately portrays a person’s disability. Often, because the person is dealing with a disability, it is extra difficult to find the time to gather all of the necessary documentation. But, even when someone does everything right, they might be denied for the reasons mentioned above, among other issues. It is important that these people have advocates who can ensure they obtain the benefits they deserve.

Source: Washington Post, “Congressional report: Social Security backlog may add to agency financial woes,” Stephen Ohlemacher, Sept. 14, 2012

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