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Social Security Disability Claims Denied at Higher Rate Than Previous Years

Administrative law judges (ALJ) are tasked with reviewing Social Security Disability cases, reviews, and appeals. Each is entrusted with acting neutrally to ensure that cases that are denied wrongfully are passed back for reconsideration and, hopefully, eventual approval. However, a newly released article from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) has revealed that many judges might be influenced by undue, outside pressure to deny more claims without proper reasoning.

It found that only 7 years ago, a total of 25% of cases were denied and 62% were approved; the remaining 13% were dismissed or concluded for other reasons, most often due to people abandoning a claim after years of it stagnating in the system. Last year, the approval-denial ratio revealed a paradigm shift in thinking, or influence. Only 46% of claims were approved and 35% were denied. The information was gathered from the Association of Administrative Law Judges’ own data and records.

The AJC began looking into how outside interests might be playing a significant role in the dramatic increase in denials after the recent Daughtery-Conn scandal. David Daughtery, a West Virginia ALJ, was busted for taking bribes from Eric Conn, a then-disability attorney. The judge was subsequently sentenced to prison time and Conn tried to hide in Honduras but was recently apprehended.

Clerical Issues Worsen the Situation

In addition to certain parties wanting to see less SSD cases approved, there is also an underlying concern with the number of staff members assigned to the Social Security Administration’s systems and branches. Many judges report that a recent drop in staffing has complicated the preexisting issues with the management of cases. With less eyes on a case, the more likely an error in judgement will occur. The lack of administrative staff also means an average case will take longer to be handled and reviewed. A clear solution to address these problems has yet to be proposed.

For more information about this ongoing issue, you can read the full AJC article by clicking here. If you require help with a Social Security Disability Insurance filing of your own, feel free to call (970) 667-2898 and talk to our Loveland Social Security Disability attorneys of Busch Law Offices. We have more than 30 years of total legal experience managing some of the most complex SSD cases and workers’ compensation claims on the books.