Independent Review of SSA Commissioned

Today’s Wall Street Journals says that “The Social Security Administration has commissioned an independent review of the federal disability system amid concerns it awards benefits to those who don’t deserve them and denies benefits to those who do.

“A focus of the study is expected to be the work of roughly 1,500 administrative-law judges, who hear appeals by applicants but whose award rates vary widely.

“Meanwhile, the Social Security Administration next week plans to stop notifying people applying for benefits of which judge they’ve been assigned for their case. This is being done, someone briefed on the plan said, to prevent applicants and their lawyers from trying to shop their appeals to the most lenient judges. ”

Advocates complain that this will prevent them from preparing in the way a particular judge wants to see a case presented. Each judge handles hearings differently, some want briefs, some don’t. Some do all the questioning, some want lawyers to do it. Lawyers say that after waiting several years for a hearing, forum shopping is off the table.