In yesterday’s post we discussed the subjectivity inherent in the Social Security Disability Insurance benefits application process and the importance of contacting a Portland Social Security Disability attorney if your application is denied. We also discussed the federal probe into the record of one administrative law judge who approved all but a handful of the cases that he reviewed. Federal authorities suspect that the ALJ may have received kickbacks or bribes for reviewing SSD cases, but the government is being tight-lipped about the investigation.
The U.S. district attorney for the ALJ’s region said that he could not “confirm or deny” any investigation into the wrongdoing of current or former ALJs. “However, generally speaking, we are always concerned about any threat to the public fisc and will work to hold individuals accountable if wrongdoing is found and able to be proven,” the attorney added.
ALJs are hired for essentially lifetime appointments after a lengthy screening process. These judges generally have a lot of discretion and independence in awarding benefits but recent news stories regarding the disparity in award rates has increased the amount of scrutiny of ALJ decisions.
Social Security Disability attorneys are typically the only advocates for disabled applicants whose applications have been wrongfully denied. A disability attorney is typically only paid when his or her clients receive benefits. Most ALJs review appeals from applicants that have applied for disability benefits and have been denied at least twice. ALJs have felt the pressure to review an increasing number of cases due to the unprecedented number of cases filed with the SSA.
Although the judge in question appears to have approved an inordinate amount of applications, many SSD attorneys will point out that there are many more judges that disapprove equally large numbers of applications. These judges are perhaps a bigger problem because the denial of an application leaves a disabled individual without the benefits that he or she deserves.
Source: Wall Street Journal, “Ex-Judge’s Disability Rulings Probed,” Damian Paletta, Nov. 25, 2011