June 12, 2014

Oversight Committee Holds Hearings on SSDI

The U.S. House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform wrapped up a series of SSDI hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 10-11, with committee members indicating there will be more to come. Lasting several hours, over two days—the hearings addressed the topic, “Social Security Administration Oversight: Examining the Integrity of the Disability Determination Appeals Process.”

Multiple topics were covered during the hearings, including an examination of administrative law judges (ALJs) who have high rates of approval, the training and discipline process for ALJs, recent trends with SSDI approval rates, and the increasing backlog of SSDI claims and growing wait times.

Testimony was provided by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, who released investigations of the SSDI program in 2012 and 2013, as well as four ALJs and the Social Security Administration’s Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin.  The ALJs, all selected to testify because of their high approval rates, were extensively questioned on their methods and criticized for "rubber stamping" disability claims.  Colvin faced a number of questions regarding ALJ oversight and disciplinary processes, as well as how the SSA handled fraudulent activity and CDRs.  The Acting Commissioner repeatedly stated that the SSA cannot interfere with ALJs' judicial independence or single out an ALJ solely based on their approval rate of disability claims.

Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-California, issued a 55-page report in conjunction with the hearings. Additional material from the week’s events can be found on the following websites: http://oversight.house.gov/ and http://democrats.oversight.house.gov/. We will continue to monitor developments on this topic, as additional hearings are expected.


Steve Perrigo
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Steve Perrigo

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