Fri Apr 19, 2013, 12:49 PM
Purveyor (18,300 posts)
Lawsuit: Judges Sometimes Award Disability Benefits To Clear Cases Faster To Meet Quotas
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Judges struggling to handle a surge of disability cases sometimes award benefits they might otherwise deny in order to clear cases faster so they can meet quotas imposed by the Social Security Administration, according to a lawsuit filed by the union representing the agency's administrative law judges.
The Social Security Administration says judges should decide 500 to 700 disability cases a year. The agency calls the standard a productivity goal, but the lawsuit claims it is an illegal quota that requires judges to decide an average of more than two cases a workday.
The lawsuit says the requirement violates judges' independence, denies due process rights to applicants and further strains the finances of a disability program that is projected to run out of money in 2016.
Once the trust fund that supports the disability program runs dry, the system will only collect enough money in payroll taxes to pay 79 percent of benefits. Congress could redirect money from the retirement program to shore up the disability program, as it did in 1994. But that would worsen the finances of the retirement program, too.
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