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Lack of judges still a problem for Social Security Administration

On Behalf of | Mar 9, 2016 | Social Security Administration News

Any of our Los Angeles readers who are familiar with previous posts here know that there can be quite a few complications and challenges to overcome when applying for Social Security disability benefits. For starters, the application process can involve the need to provide voluminous amounts of information regarding the applicant’s medical condition and work history. Beyond that, the Social Security Administration may even require more information than the applicant provides in the initial application, necessitating frequent back-and-forth between the applicant and the SSA. But, as a recent article noted, perhaps the biggest problem is the lack of staff to process applications at the Social Security Administration.

In particular, administrative law Judges, also known as ALJs, are in short supply at the SSA. ALJs will typically enter the picture when an initial application for Social Security disability benefits is denied and the applicant appeals that decision. At a certain point in the appeals process, an ALJ may need to review the case to see if there is any reason why the initial denial of benefits should be reversed. But, as the recent article noted, the backlog of cases in front of ALJs at this point in time is staggering.

Beyond the number of cases in the backlog, there is also the issue of the medical complexity of many cases. After all, ALJs are legal experts — not medical experts. The process of gathering medical information in a case may not be as simple as gathering an applicant’s medical records from a healthcare provider.

Nonetheless, the problems that the Social Security Administration faces should not deter a Los Angeles resident who believes they have a qualifying disability from applying for Social Security disability benefits. There are some medical conditions that are so serious that approval could come much quicker.

Source:, “Lack of judges, medical expertise slows disability cases,” Chris Stewart, March 3, 2016

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