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Disability Claims May Depend on Preference of Judge

Those who are looking to obtain Social Security benefits are beginning to realize that not all claims are decided equally. In the past, the Social Security Administration did not released information unless it was specifically requested. Now the agency regularly posts updates each month about how judges decide cases.

Since this release of information, new details are being discussed about the disparities in how claims are handled. The group with the most issues concerns those claimants who filed appeals because they felt their initial claim denial was unfair. The monthly data has shown that some judges will approve almost all claims while other judges will hardly approve a handful.

The Social Security Administration's inspector general has begun to look at the data and Congress has also stepped in but many, including SSA officials and disabled people advocates have made it clear they want to stay out of the judges' decisions.

Currently, the SSA reports approximately 8.4 million disabled workers are in the nation that get an average monthly Social Security benefit in the amount of $1,069. Another 8.1 million disabled, low-income citizens get approximately $500 a month in income from Supplemental Social Security. Figures for fiscal year 2010 were shown to be up more than 38% for disability worker benefits than in the previous five years.

Since the increase in cases, the Social Security Administration has added about 200 more judges and worked towards streamlining the claims review process. Wait times for approval or denial have since dropped from an average of 532 days in 2008 to 354 days in 2011.

Ask The Disability Guys

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