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Judges claim they are expected to review too many disability claims

It has been estimated that at least 70 percent of Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income claims are denied by the Social Security Administration. Claims may be denied when disabled workers and other folks in Minnesota and throughout the U.S. fail to provide the SSA with the information that is needed to process a claim. Claims may also be denied when the SSA makes mistakes while processing claims or when the SSA makes the determination that some applicants are simply not entitled to obtain disability benefits.

When disabled workers' applications for SSDI benefits are denied, they may feel hopeless and become very concerned about their finances. Although many applications are initially denied, disabled workers may still fight to obtain benefits by asking the SSA to reconsider its decision or by requesting to have a hearing before an administrative law judge. If a hearing is approved, a judge will need to thoroughly review each applicant's case before approving or denying benefits.

In some cases, it may take months or years before an applicant's case goes before an administrative law judge. Applicants are certainly frustrated with how long it may take to have their disability claims approved by judges, but administrative law judges have recently voiced their concerns about this process, too.

The judges' union recently filed a lawsuit against the SSA stating that the agency expects judges to process more claims than what they are capable of processing. The judges claim that sometimes benefits are awarded when benefits should not be awarded simply because judges do not have enough time to do the work that is required to deny claims. In some cases, it is easier to approve a claim than it is to deny a claim, the lawsuit states. According to the lawsuit, each administrative law judge is expected to review 500 to 700 cases each year. However, disability claims can be very complex, making it difficult for judges to review more than one or two cases each day.

The lawsuit claims that the SSA has set goals that are too high for judges. The judges claim that these goals can get in the way of allowing judges to take the time that is necessary to thoroughly review disability claims. The SSA claims that the judges' lawsuit has no merit, but this is certainly concerning for folks who deserve to have their cases thoroughly reviewed by judges.

Source: Associated Press, "Judges' lawsuit: Disability system 'in crisis,'" Stephen Ohlemacher, April 19, 2013

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