Judges Admit Pressure to Rush Cases

I once received a letter from a family member of a man who waited for a long time for his case to be heard, and before it could be heard, the man died,” said Randy Frye, an administrative law judge from Charlotte, N. C. “It made me feel terrible. . . . That just shouldn’t happen.”

Frye is the president and Zahm the vice president of the Association of Administrative Law Judges, a national union of judges that held an educational conference Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. About 130 judges attended the event in the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

The two officials said the system in which they work is in a “crisis.” According to the judges, the long wait for hearings is only one of several serious problems that affect a system on which millions of Americans depend.

Among the other problems, according to the judges:

• Far too many applicants — about two of every three — are turned down, sometimes for no logical reason, when they first apply. Later — only after months of waiting and having to hire attorneys — most of those people are approved for disability.

• The system has little or no flexibility. The judges are required to approve disability pay for life to a person who, in their opinion, should receive it for a year or two.

• They are pressured by Social Security Administration officials to rush cases through the system, when, in some cases, they would like to spend more time researching a case in the best interest of taxpayers and applicants.

“Right now, the only pressure we get from Washington is to push the cases through the system,” Frye said. “That seems to be the only priority.” See full story from the Buffalo News: