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Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

Do Disability Examiners make bad decisions, or do Social Security Judges?




 
In answer to this question, my own opinion is that the real problem is disability examiners and the system they work in. The social security disability and SSI disability system is federal, but every DDS operates independently. And decision-making is not uniform, not even between units in a DDS.

I think the real problem is that DDS examiners have a disinclination to approve too many cases. This is because external quality control (in the Atlanta region, this was known as DQB, or disability quality branch) tended to send back as "returns", cases for which DQB found errors in decision-making on the part of disability examiners) and usually cases that had been marked for approval by disability examiners. Very seldom was a return a case that had been denied by an examiner. The effect was that approvals were suppressed.

I remember one case in which a person suffered second and third degree burns to 25 percent of their body. They had been discharged at one point by UNC hospital but had been readmitted because of renal failure subsequent to their injuries. Our unit manager forced the case to be denied. The unit medical consultant went along with the unit supervisor (how independent does this make the unit medical consultant then?) and the rationalization was that the level of stricture from the burns was not significant enough that it couldn't resolve within 12 months.

Completely wrong. That was a good example of unit supervisors exercising their influence on decision-making simply because they want to suppress approvals and reduce the potential for returns from external quality control, which makes them look bad to upper DDS agency management. In other words, state government employees subverting the system for their perceived career goals.

Given this, it is not surprising that judges reverse so many of these bad decisions. Judges do not answer to management. They are autonomous. And in being so, they re-introduce a level of fairness into the system since the state-run DDS agencies have the opposite effect. Which is why it is so disheartening to see attempts to paint all judges as being too lenient.








Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions








Related pages:

Denied Twice For SSD or SSI Disability
What if application for disability is denied?
Do you have to go to a hearing to get approved?
Types of decisions by disability judges
Disability requirements and how to file in South Carolina
Rulings, decisions by disability judges
SSD, SSI, and medium, light, and sedentary work
What Does Social Security Consider To Be a Disability?
How many hours can you work if you are receiving social security disability?
Medical conditions for which you can file and apply for disability



Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI


These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

What Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Disability for a mental condition
Tips for Filing for disability
Financial Help Filing For Disability
Checklist for filing for disability, SSI or SSD
Qualifying for disability benefits, how to qualify for SSD or SSI
Filing a disability application: the steps
Disability award notice, how long it takes to get benefits
How to Apply for Disability - Where do I go?
What makes you eligible to get disability?
How to check my disability claim status?
Can a disability attorney speed up a disability case?
SSI disability Award Letter
How long to get approved for disability?
How to apply for disability benefits
How long does disability back pay take?
What are qualifications for getting disability?
What medical conditions can you file disability for?
Disability Lawyer help questions
Social Security Attorneys, Disability Representatives