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Inconsistencies between judges in SSDI appeals concerning

Those in New Jersey applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits will be interested to learn that legislators in one state are demanding that the Social Security Administration explain the high rates of denial by certain judges in SSDI appeals.

For now, the investigation is centered in nearby Delaware where appeals are more commonly denied. In fact, over half of all appeals were unsuccessful since October of last year. The administrative law judges' rates of denial in Dover, Delaware are among the highest in the nation. Two administrative law judges deny over 70 percent of the cases that they hear.

The chances for success in an SSDI appeal depend entirely on the administrative law judge who happens to hear the case. While some judges have extremely high rates of denial, others approve nearly all of the cases that come across their desk. A five-step protocol exists for judges to use in evaluating whether an individual's disability will impair their ability to work.

Recently, the inspector general for the SSA released a report that revealed that Social Security office staff suspect that certain administrative law judges carry their political opinions into the courtroom.

In December, the SSA retained an independent federal agency to analyze the discrepancies between judges and their application of the guidelines.

The appeals process for SSDI benefits can be very complex in Delaware, New Jersey and other parts of the country. Most of the time, judges do not explain the reasons for their decision. Therefore, it can be difficult for an applicant to determine what evidence is most likely to help their case.

Consulting with an experienced attorney may be helpful to avoid an appeal in the first place. However, in the event of an appeal, an attorney can help an applicant prepare the necessary documentation and work to get them the benefits they deserve.

Source: The Daily Times, "Delaware: Legislators push for deep look at Social Security denials," Mike Chalmers, Mar. 1, 2012

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