Social Security has made great strides in converting from an unwieldy paper file system to an almost fully electronic system. From my perspective as a lawyer, hearing preparation has become significantly easier now that I can access my clients’ electronic files from my office – in the past if I wanted to review a file I would have to make a special trip down to the hearing office.
Social Security deserves a great deal of credit for making this transition – there were some bumps in the road, but, by in large, the new “paperless” system works fairly well.
That being said there is another area where I continue to voice strong criticism of Social Security – and that has to do with the inconsistency in hearing results by the administrative law judges.
Earlier this week, I was scheduled for a hearing in one of the local hearing offices. SSA does not tell us who the judges are until the day of the hearing so I did not find out which judge was assigned until I arrived.
A colleague of mine arrived at the same time and, not surprisingly, asked the hearing office clerk which judge was assigned to his case.
My case was assigned to a judge who approves 45% of the cases brought before him, denying or dismissing the other 55%. My colleague drew a judge who approves 73% of the cases he hears, denying or dismissing the remaining 27%.
In other words, my colleague’s client has a 62% better chance than mine of winning that day if their cases were identical.
How can any claimant be assured of fair treatment by this agency when one of the primary factors affecting his case results is pure blind luck?
How do I try to even the odds for my clients? That is the subject of tomorrow’s post on this blog.
View the approval denial statistics for your judge at DisabilityJudges.com.