In our society, when a crime is committed, it is punishable by the law. Our same societal standards dictate that improper behavior is not to be rewarded and that there are consequences for illegal actions. Those who believe in these values are shocked to hear that Louis Jerome Smith may still receive his disability hearing, even after threatening to kill employees who work for the Social Security Administration.
Smith, 49, of Hattiesberg, threatened to hurt and murder Social Security Administration employees in order to retaliate against them for not approving his Social Security Disability claim as quickly as he would have liked. Smith's initial claim for benefits was denied, resulting in the need for a disability hearing.
Most disability applicants realize that the hearing process is anything but quick and easy. Some Social Security Disability applicants wait years before having a hearing date set in front of an administrative law judge due to the backlog of cases currently in the system. Apparently, this waiting period wasn't acceptable to Smith. What Smith did find acceptable, however, was to threaten physical harm and even murder to the employees who were just doing their jobs.
After the threats were made, Smith was incarcerated. It just so happens that on the date of his disability hearing, Smith was unable to attend as a result of his being in jail. However, the Social Security Administration is debating whether to provide Smith with another hearing date – one that he will actually be able to attend.
U.S. Sen. Thad Chochran's office has taken an interest in Smith's case and the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review is determining whether Smith is entitled to a new hearing date. If this date is granted and Smith is determined to be disabled as a result of this hearing, the man who threatened to murder Social Security employees may actually receive his disability payments.
Many argue that Smith should not be entitled to a second hearing date. These individuals feel that allowing Smith a second hearing date and awarding him Social Security Disability benefits set a precedent, thereby sending the wrong message to the general public – a message that says you can assault and threaten to murder SSA employees and still receive your disability payments.
Others argue that Smith is legally entitled to this hearing, since it was beyond his control that he was not at his initial Social Security Disability hearing. These individuals feel that regardless of Smith's actions, he still has a legal right to attend a second hearing to obtain the disability benefits for which he may qualify.
Whether or not Smith is actually being granted a hearing is still to be decided. The ODAR office handling the case said that a decision will be made no later than mid August.