Lawmakers Consider Probe of Social Security Disability Program

Submitted by Daniel on

According to the Wall Street Journal, lawmakers are considering a probe of the Social Security Disability program. This probe is not the same probe reported earlier about the judge in Huntington, West Virginia who was put on administrative leave for awarding an unusually high number of Social Security Disability cases (100 percent in the past six months, to be exact). While this probe may have been sparked by that situation, this particular one may investigate the entire procedure that is used to authorize Social Security Disability payments and will definitely investigate judges whose award ratios differ significantly from the national average.

Lawmakers have expressed some valid concerns regarding the situation mentioned above and are worried that similar situations could be happening elsewhere in the country. As a result, they would like to initiate a probe into how the Social Security Administration decides whether or not a person is actually eligible for Social Security Disability payments.

Patrick O'Carroll, the Social Security Inspector General, received notice from lawmakers that the Ways and Means Subcommittee is worried about the management of the funds that are being used for the Social Security Disability program. Considering the fact that the SSA is expected to receive more than three million claims for disability benefits this year alone, the concerns are not without merit. The subcommittee wants to make sure that the SSA has measures in place to make sure that people who are not disabled do not receive an approval for Social Security Disability payments. At the same time, it is the SSA's responsibility to ensure that those who do suffer from disabilities receive the Social Security Disability payments to which they are entitled.

Fortunately, it seems that the subcommittee probe is not solely focusing on the judges whose award ratios are higher than average. The subcommittee letter is requesting that a review process be put in place for judges who have award ratios that are significantly different than the national average. To me, this would seem that judges who have award ratios that are significantly lower than the average would be investigated as well. Attention should be given not only to the judges who award more cases than usual, but also to those who deny more cases than usual.

As far as the situation in Huntington, O'Carroll has admitted that a criminal investigation has indeed begun. Whether or not there were any conflicts of interest at play in the award ratio is yet to be seen. For now, we can rest assured that there is indeed a light on the horizon for those who had to go before judges who seemed to award a very small fraction of the disability cases they heard. While the judges who award more cases than average will be investigated, those who seem to deny a significantly higher number of disability claims will be called to answer for their actions as well, as many disability applicants have hoped they would be.

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