OIG Report Provides Hope to Claimants Denied by a Judge

Posted May 20, 2016 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

A recent report from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) provides hope to claimants who were denied by a Judge during their claim for Social Security Disability benefits.[1]  For the purposes of this report, the OIG’s office audited 275 out of 190,900 claims that had been denied by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in the fiscal year 2011.  The OIG’s review of that sample resulted in the following findings:

  • 79 claimants were receiving benefits (29%)
  • 36 claimants were awaiting decision on a new application (13%)
  • 75 claimants reported earnings in 2011 or later (27%)
  • 63 claimants were not receiving agency benefits or reporting earnings (23%)
  • 22 claimants were deceased or had unique situations, such as Medicare only benefits, incomplete records in SSA systems, or were children receiving benefits because of a parent’s status.

Of the 79 claimants receiving benefits, 71 of those were receiving disability benefits and 8 were receiving retirement benefits.  24 of the 71 disability beneficiaries received a favorable decision after appealing their hearing denial to the Appeals Council or Federal Court.  27 of these claimants received benefits based on a new application.  Finally, the remaining 18 claimants received benefits after appearing in front of an ALJ for their new claim.

This is certainly positive data for claimants who have been denied by an ALJ and are trying to determine whether it is worth pursuing an appeal or filing a new application.  It is clear from this data that Judges are not always correct in their decision to deny benefits.  Further, many claimants will see their health continue to deteriorate, which may make a new application successful despite their prior denial.

It is also worth noting that 27% of these claimants appear to have returned to work.  This does not necessarily mean that they are not struggling with severe medical impairments.  Unfortunately, some claimants are in such a dire situation that they must force themselves to return to work so that they have some income to provide for their families.  Each claimant must decide their best course of action based on their individual circumstances.  If you are considering appealing your hearing denial or filing a new application, this data certainly shows that it can be a very beneficial endeavor.

[1] To view the full OIG Report, click here https://oig.ssa.gov/audits-and-investigations/audit-reports/A-12-15-15020

By: Thomas A. Klint of Premier Disability Services, LLC®