Recently, our firm initiated an inquiry pursuant to the Equal Access for Justice Act requesting material from the Social Security Administration used by administrative law judges in writing their decisions. At Drummond Disability, we try a great number of cases with a great number of judges from many states. Some of the judges are in National Hearing Centers situated throughout the country, while some are from National Hearing Centers in Chicago or St. Louis. Many of them are from Illinois but we frequently deal with administrative law judges from many other states, most commonly Missouri, Indiana, and California.
It becomes apparent when reading Social Security Disability decisions in which claimants are denied benefits that the judges from throughout the country almost always use identical language in denying claims. This problem has been acknowledged in multiple federal appellate circuits and has been criticized repeatedly by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals concerning cases in Illinois Indiana and Wisconsin. This constant use of the same language by judges in different jurisdictions leads us to believe that there is a national template or form that has given to the judges that makes it easy to deny claims.
For Social Security disability claims, whether the claim is for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits or for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), we strongly feel that the judges should detail the evidence they rely upon in denying the claim. This is particularly true when judges dismiss reports from treating doctors with boilerplate language without explaining the reasoning whatsoever.
At the present time, we are at the initial stages of our investigation and, depending upon what we get as a result of our request for information pursuant to the freedom of information act, we may be counting completing a class-action suit on the behalf of applicants denied benefits caused by the misuse of these standard form decisions. We’ll keep you updated as to what we discover from the information Social Security provides us.
If you or someone you know is disabled, call Drummond Law at (800) 842-0426 for a free consultation.