Disability judges to be watched more closely in 2014

For many Americans, the start of a new year is an opportunity to recommit to lapsed goals or to tackle new ones. Yet new resolutions are not limited to individual goals. Lawmakers can also use this time to reevaluate policies.

The Social Security Administration is a recent example. Agency officials recently announced that the administrative law judges assigned to disability cases would be subject to new oversight in 2014.

In spite of federal guidelines, an attorney knows that a successful application for Social Security disability insurance benefits will likely also require good litigation strategy. For that reason, the SSA's announcement of its new approach to the supervising disability judges may be good news.

After all, the 1,500 administrative law judges that the Social Security Administration assigns to hear SSDI appeals are human like the rest of us. They may have more legal training than the average juror. Yet that is no guarantee that their determinations will always be free from unconscious biases or beyond the sway of emotional reactions.

An attorney that has experience in helping disabled workers bring applications for SSDI benefits knows just how many initial claims are denied. However, that is not the end of the battle. An attorney can help applicants file an appeal and fight for their right to receive benefits from a system that they paid into while they were able-bodied and able to work. It may be tempting to lose hope upon receiving the news of an initial denial. However, an attorney can be a strong advocate and keep up the fight, even when the going gets tough.

Wall Street Journal, "Government Pulls in Reins On Disability Judges," Damian Paletta, Dec. 26, 2013