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Tucson Social Security Disability Blog

Does SSA Care About Judicial Independence?

Posted by John Kuhnlein | Jan 22, 2016 | 0 Comments

It is probably not too much of an exaggeration to say that the American legal system is based upon judges being fair, and honest, and above-all independent. Judges wear black robes as a symbol of their independence; by wearing a robe they signal their essential separation from everyone else in the legal system. If we cannot count on our judges to be independent  we will soon lose our faith that the process is fair.  A couple of recent hearings before Social Security judges has me wondering if SSA prizes judicial independence.

 I had two judges tell me within the past week that SSA is instructing them to be more strict in their rulings. The penalty for not doing so is having decisions sent

Are The Scales In Balance?

back to these judges to be heard again. One of the two judges did not seem terribly bothered by this . The other, though, was rattled. He seemed to have lost his confidence in his ability to decide the case before him. He was openly worried that if he did something wrong, he would have the case reviewed and sent back to him. Having seen this twice in a week, I have to wonder if this sort of influence is appropriate.  Should SSA be telling judges how to decide cases? Admittedly, the judges do have to apply the Social Security rules and regulations.  If you asked SSA, I'm sure they would say that their instructions to the judges are designed simply to ensure better and more accurate decisions. SSA would assuredly deny that they are trying to influence the outcome of any given case.  But, is that position legitimate? Or is SSA pressuring judges by constantly looking over their shoulders, watching for any deviation from what SSA considers correct?

I certainly have not heard of SSA pressuring judges to approve more claims. All of the influence that SSA exerts seems to be designed to produce fewer decisions overall and even fewer favorable decisions.  If SSA thinks that their judges are approving too many claims, they have remedies. They can changes the regulations, for example, to make approvals harder to get. That is their right. What SSA cannot do, however, is pressure judges to approve fewer claims. If the system is to work, judges have to be independent.  Right now, there are too many troubling signs that this is not the case.

About the Author

John Kuhnlein

Since 1992, I have been helping the people of Southern Arizona get the benefits they are due. Before devoting all my efforts to assisting people with Social Security disability claims, I also handled such complex lawsuits as medical malpractice and products liability. I brought to my Social Security cases all the skills and attention to detail that I developed in the courtroom. I approach each Social Security disability case as if it were a million-dollar lawsuit. For the people trying to get Social Security benefits, their claim is every bit as important. Because I have personally handled so many Social Security cases, I have refined the skills I need to win your case for you. I have helped people win cases for every kind of ailment from arthritis to valley fever. At present, I am focused on helping those persons with neurological and orthopedic disorders. Because claims for people over age fifty bring additional complications, I particularly seek out those cases to work on. I regularly write about back and spine conditions on my blog. I actively seek out the latest information about orthopedic and neurological disorders to ensure I can represent my clients as effectively as possible. Because of my current focus, I regret that I am not able to take any cases for mental disorders. If you are over age fifty and suffer from any orthopedic or neurological disorder, please contact me at once.


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John Kuhnlein has been assisting people with Social Security disability claims for the past 25+ years.

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