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Some Social Security disability applications improperly approved

Many people in Pennsylvania rely on Social Security disability benefits to make ends meet if they are unable to work due to a disability. However, a new report reveals some concerning information regarding the approval of some of these claims.

According to an investigation by the inspector general of the nation's Social Security office, 44 Social Security judges have been approving claims for Social Security disability benefits for those who should not have qualified for benefits. The incidents involve almost 25,000 applicants. Since 2007, these discrepancies have cost the nation $2 billion. The judges involved comprise only approximately four percent of Social Security disability judges in the United States. Some legislators believe that an overly-burdensome caseload has lead to the "rubber-stamping" of approved claims. Of the judges involved, 15 have faced disciplinary actions.

Despite this new report, most administrative law judges for the Social Security department address each claim fairly on its merits. In order to reach an administrative law judge, a Social Security Disability benefit application usually must be rejected by two other state employees.

To receive Social Security disability benefits, a worker's disability must prevent them from being able to hold down a job, and their disability must either last for one year or more, or cause them to pass away.

Almost 11 million workers who suffer from a disability, children and spouses receive Social Security disability benefits -- a surge of 45 percent from 10 years ago. On average, a disabled worker receives just over $1,100 each month in Social Security disability benefits.

As this shows, it is important for each step in the Social Security disability benefit application process to be properly completed. Doing so may ensure that those who qualify get the benefits they need.

Source: Newsmax, "IG: $2 Billion Social Security Disability Claims Approved by Mistake," Nov. 15, 2014

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Pennsylvania Bar Association Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee