With the goal of improving consistency in the disability determination process, the Social Security Administration (SSA) recently announced plans to increase its oversight of the administrative law judges who are responsible for awarding or denying Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
The SSA has rewritten the job descriptions of around 1,500 judges, who had previously been given broad discretion in eligibility hearings. This often resulted in unpredictable outcomes. According to a 2011 Wall Street Journal article, the likelihood of an applicant being awarded disability benefits could vary dramatically depending on which judge oversaw their hearing. Some judges would deny SSDI benefits nine times out of ten, while others would award benefits nearly as often.
These new job descriptions for the judges include language stating that the judges are subject to supervision. Verbiage such as "complete individual independence" has been removed. These changes will hopefully not only increase accountability among judges, but also allow the SSA to take corrective measures when judges inappropriately award or deny benefits.
If you need to apply for SSDI benefits, or if you have already applied and been denied, please contact Kalfus & Nachman today or call (855) 880-8163 to speak with one of our experienced Virginia social security attorneys. We can help you increase your chances of receiving the benefits you deserve.