Americans pursuing Social Security disability claims in court have experienced varying results. The Social Security Administration employs 1,400 administrative law judges (ALJs) to rule on appeals from people whose disability applications were denied. ALJs preside over cases that were previously denied twice. The Social Security Administration recently began releasing monthly data about how ALJs are deciding their cases. The data indicates that some ALJs grant benefits in most of their cases, while other judges rarely grant benefits. Congress and the Commissioner of Social Security are investigating the data. However, Social Security representatives are hesitant to disturb the independence of the ALJs. The Social Security Administration believes that “only a handful” of ALJs have abnormal approval ratings.
In 2010, over 2.9 million Americans applied for Social Security disability benefits, a 38% increase over five years. To deal with the increased number of applications, Social Security has employed 200 new ALJs and made the process for reviewing claims more efficient. The national average for wait times has dropped from 532 days in 2008 to 354 days in June.
Mike Chalmers, Data Show Disability Benefits Can Depend On Judge,
https://www.usatoday.com/money/workplace/2011-07-01-disability-denials_n.htm (accessed July 3, 2011).