A friend told me that “60 Minutes” broadcast (or re-broadcast) a scathing report on the Social Security Disability program and the attorneys who make millions off of disabled people. This is not the first time such coverage has occurred. I didn’t watch it because it would make my blood boil.
These programs paint with a broad brush and are extremely one-sided. I, and my bank account, can assure you that I do not make millions. Except for people at the head of national or large regional firms, attorneys who represent people on Social Security disability claims are certainly NOT millionaires.
These programs also denigrate judges who hear Social Security Disability claims as well. Most judges do the best job they can. The number of cases they’re expected to deal with per year is astounding. Programs such as the “60 Minutes” program puts pressure on the Social Security Administration which then pressures the judges as well. The judges feel pressure to keep the number of approvals down. In the last few years the number of claims that have been approved have plummeted across the United States as the number of applications have increased.
The Appeals Council hears appeals on claims where Administrative Law Judges have denied them. In addition, and as further proof of the pressure the Social Security Administration feels, the Appeals Council on its own and without any appeal being filed also reviews favorable decisions from the judges to see if they believe the judges’ decisions are correct. Does the Appeals Council also review unfavorable decisions if an appeal is not filed? Of course not. So this review isn’t really about quality assurance; it’s about keeping down the number of favorable decisions.
Ultimately, the people who are hurt the most by these one-sided programs such as the one by “60 Minutes” are the disabled claimants who now have to fight even harder to receive the benefits they deserve.