A newly proposed rule by the Social Security Administration could negatively impact people in Ohio and around the country who apply for Social Security Disability benefits. If the rule is enacted, people whose initial claims are denied will no longer be able to have their appeals heard outside of the Social Security Administration by administrative law judges.
A majority of the applications for SSD benefits are initially denied. People then have a right to appeal the agency’s decision and to have it independently reviewed at hearings before an administrative law judge. ALJs do not fall under the SSA’s umbrella and are independent. However, the new rule would bring the appeals hearings under the agency’s control, and some of them could be decided by hearing officers instead of ALJs.
A union that represents ALJs has filed comments on the proposed rule. The ALJs argue that the proposed rule is not necessary and that it likely violates the law. The Social Security Administration said that the rule was necessary because of the huge backlog of disability claims. However, the ALJs point out that the number of cases that are pending is at its lowest level in 15 years. The ALJs also argue that the rule would violate the law because the legislators called for people to have an opportunity for denials to be independently reviewed. By bringing the appeals in-house, the independent nature of the review would be lost.
Qualifying for SSD benefits can be difficult. Experienced disability lawyers might help their clients to gather evidence to support their claims, which may increase the likelihood that the claims will be approved. If the agency issues an initial denial, a lawyer can appear at a subsequent hearing.