The Social Security Disability benefits application process can be difficult and confusing for many Portland residents. An experienced Oregon Social Security attorney can help guide applicants through the application process and will also know how to artfully file an appeal if necessary.
The necessity of filing an appeal for Social Security Disability benefits sometimes has less to do with the strength of the initial application and more to do with the whims of the specific administrative law judge (ALJ) reviewing the application. USA Today reports that there are many gaps between the amount of applications approved by the roughly 1,400 ALJs that decide Social Security claims. For example, the national average denial rate is approximately 30 percent but there is one Delaware judge who has denied 82 percent of the claims that she reviewed this year.
Another judge in West Virginia has a drastically different record. The West Virginia ALJ denied 119 of the 8,381 claims that he decided since late 2004, which is fewer than 2 percent of all of his claims. That ALJ was placed on indefinite leave after it was revealed that he assigned cases to himself that involved a particular lawyer.
Drastic variations such as this may only increase with the amount of new ALJs hired. ALJs have steadily increased in number due to the vast amount of hearing requests. The administration reported that there were 2.9 million Social Security Disability applicants last year. This is represents a 38 percent increase over the past five years. The administration changed how claims are reviewed and added the additional judges to catch up with demand. Now the average wait time for a decision is slightly under a year, down from 532 days in late 2008.
Source: USA Today, “Data show disability benefits can depend on judge,” Mike Chalmers, 7/1/11