Monday, October 5, 2015

Is the SSA Respecting the Integrity of Administrative Law Judges?

Recent developments at the Social Security Administration (SSA) have raised concerns whether
the agency is respecting the integrity and independence of Administrative Law Judges (ALJ's).  For example, in 2014 the SSA asked ALJ Rita Eppler to make a presentation during a training for its employees.  Other ALJ's were supportive of her remarks, particularly when she emphasized the importance of having a totally independent trier of fact making unbiased determinations in disability cases.
Apparently, the SSA management didn't like her remarks and has kept her speech out of future training sessions.  Here is a video of Judge's Eppler's remarks.  You can judge for yourself whether there was anything inappropriate in what she said.
The SSA's actions in this matter are very troubling given the fact that in the past year many ALJ's seem to have decreased dramatically the number of  fully favorable decisions being issued.
The integrity of our disability claims process depends greatly in maintaining and protecting the independence of the ALJ's.  It is the responsibility of every Social Security Disability Lawyer to defend the right of the disabled to appear before unbiased judges.  We must stand united and protest any attempts to infringe on the independence of the ALJ's.