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Are judges pressed to approve Social Security Disability claims?

It is well-known that the Social Security backlog has been holding disability applicants back from getting the rapid access to the benefits they deserve. According to some judges, this backlog has resulted in pressure from the Social Security Administration for them to approve more disability claims, even for some applicants who may not necessarily qualify for benefits if they were more carefully vetted.

Testifying before Congress on June 27, a number of current and former judges spoke about the problem. According to the Washington Post, one judge called the current pressure to approve claims a system of "paying down the backlog."

Over the past ten years, the number of individuals who are receiving Social Security Disability payments has grown by 44 percent. Today, there are almost 11 million people receiving Social Security Disability benefits.

Most Social Security Disability claims are initially denied. However, even among claims that are denied initially, the eventual approval rate before administrative judges is quite high. For judges deciding on the validity of Social Security Disability claims that had already been denied twice by state agencies, the vast majority approve more than half.

There are likely many reasons so many claims get approved once they are before a judge. For one thing, by this stage, many applicants have retained an attorney and therefore present a much stronger case than they did initially. But, Congress is suspicious that there might be something else behind the high judicial approval rate, which is why the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is looking into the matter.

Source: The Washington Post, Judges tell lawmakers they are pressured to approve Social Security disability claims, Stephen Ohlemacher

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