Residents of New Jersey may be aware that the number of Social Security claims filed each year is increasing because the population is aging. The huge number of claims results in a processing delay that is causing the state office to reject a claim at least once before it reaches an administrative judge’s desk.
According to sources, judges decide almost 500 to 700 cases every day and it is reported that it is easier to accept a claim than to deny it because a denial can be appealed. Denials increase the workload because a judge must document the reason for denial; but if the claim is approved, it ends the judge’s responsibility.
Recently, it was reported that some judges approved Social Security Disability claims for almost 25,000 people who did not qualify for benefits, costing taxpayers billions of dollars over the last seven years. It was stated that investigators found that cases heard by 44 administrative judges were approved at an unusually high rate.
According to sources, these judges accepted nearly 85 percent of claims heard during at least two of the seven years studied. It was also stated that these judges decided more than 700 cases in a year and that out of the judicial pool, only 4 percent of judges available decide Social Security Disability claims. According to sources, authorities have been concerned about this issue for years since the Social Security Administration encouraged judges to deliver quantity rather than quality.
It is also stated that almost 11 million disabled workers, their spouses and their children receive Social Security Disability benefits, which has doubled over the last decade. To qualify for SSD benefits, a disability must prevent a person from working for at least a year, or have resulted in the person’s death. However, sources state that if judges continue to award these benefits improperly, it can result in a depletion of resources to the point that those who qualify for SSD benefits may not receive them.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “New Report Could Increase Scrutiny of Social Security Disability Judges,” Damian Paletta, Nov. 14, 2014