Judges’ lawsuit says Social Security case quotas harmful to cases
When someone is unable to work in Craighead County due to a health condition or a physical impairment, they have the option to apply for Social Security disability. This federal program provides a financial support to assist people in this kind of situation, enabling them to pay for the things they need such as food and housing.
The application process starts on a local level where state investigators determine if the person has met the qualifications. If the person’s Social Security Disability application is denied, then they have the right to appeal that decision, taking their case before an administrative law judge.
The judges’ claim
Part of the responsibility of the judicial system is to ensure that a person receives procedural due process. This means that a person’s claim should be thoroughly examined before a decision is made and that all factors are taken into account. However, according to the Association of Administrative Law Judges this is not occurring when it comes to cases involving Social Security.
The Huffington Post reports that a lawsuit has been brought against the Social Security Administration by the Association of Administrative Law Judges for imposing case quotas-something that is actually against the law. According to the judges, they are required to hear 500-700 cases a year but having such a high case log impacts the amount of time and attention that they can give to each case. This means that many cases are not fully examined and, therefore, many people’s rights to due process may have been violated.
Social Security’s response
The former commissioner for the Social Security Administration says that the claims the judge’s union is making are false according to the Washington Post. Social Security has suggested the number as a goal, not as a quota, given the fact that there are so many applications coming in; 3.2 million people filed applications for Social Security disability in 2012. The former commissioner also made the claim that the union does not want its members to be held accountable and that the lawsuit is merely a political move.
The taxpayers’ bill
Since Social Security benefits are paid from the money taken out of taxpayer’s paychecks, the judges insist that the pressure from Social Security to hear more cases affects their ability to determine whether an applicant is really disabled or not. This means that people could be receiving money who really may not qualify. One judge points out that some individual cases are extremely complex and it takes time to review all of the evidence. However, the quotas force judges to make a decision before this occurs.
If Social Security continues paying out more than it is taking in, by 2016 it may be forced to cut benefits by 21 percent, meaning that people who really need that federal program may not have access. If you are disabled, you should speak with an attorney experienced in Social Security disability benefits for help in the application and appeal process.