Paying for cheaters

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Social Security disability assessment lacks oversight

By Merilee Dannemann

The Social Security expert was among friends and in a mood to be candid.
People who are disabled and unable to work, or who believe they are, can apply for Social Security disability benefits of lifetime income and medical coverage through Medicare.
Typically, applicants are turned down on their first try, so they hire a lawyer and go to a hearing.
That’s why you see so many ads on TV for Social Security lawyers.
Social Security judges hear those cases. The claimant, says this expert, usually has an attorney, but there is no opposing counsel for the government.
There is — no lawyer to advance any argument for why this person is not entitled to disability benefits.
It’s not an adversarial process in the usual sense.  The decision lies between the judge and the claimant.
If the judge denies the claim, the claimant’s lawyer can appeal.
But if the judge approves the claim, there is no party on the other side to say this was a bad decision.
There will be no appeal, hence no additional delays or extra costs to the system, so it’s easier to approve than to deny.
Judges are under pressure, says this expert, not to decide cases a certain way, that would be unethical, but  to dispose  of cases quickly because a huge backlog exists.   

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