Scandal always makes good news copy. Even if there isn’t one. In fact, a scandal that relies on innuendo and implication is the best kind of all, because it can never be refuted. Much has been made of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) disability program. It has grown large and costs billions every year, and much of that growth is the result of demographics and the aging of the American workforce. Yet many would like to imply that the growth is really caused by fraud.
If you have become disabled and are no longer able to work because of your disability, you may have applied for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits. And, like two-thirds of those who apply, you receive a denial. If you continue, you may eventually have a hearing in front of an administrative law judge, who works for the SSA, and reviews applications for SSDI benefits.
A judge in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania has been found to have the highest approval rate of any SSA judge in the nation. The news story implies he doing something wrong based on the fact that he awarded benefits to more than 15,000 individuals. This is “nearly double that of America’s next highest active judge.” But story does not say how long have those other judges have served.
The story claims his approval rate is six times that of the average judge. However, it provides no context for the average, nor it does not point to any particular cases that were inappropriately decided.
Interestingly, the story describes a women who is suffering from the rejection of a kidney transplant, had both hips replaced, suffered from shingles, a blood clot, and Schema Cell Carcinoma, while awaiting another kidney transplant. Her initial SSDI application was rejected, and she is now appealing that denial.
We wonder why her application was rejected, as given all of that, she would seem like an easy approval.
Which made us think, what if the real problem with SSDI is not that one judge has such a high approval rate, that all of the other judge’s rates are too low?
Source: Local21news.com, “Harrisburg disability judge awards billions in taxpayer money,” Chris Papst, May 16, 2014