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Tucson Social Security Disability Blog

GAO Finds Wide Variations In Judge's Social Security Disability Decisions

Posted by John Kuhnlein | Jul 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

A new study by the Government Accountable Office (GAO) has found that Social Security Administrative Law Judges (ALJ's) decide the same types of cases differently even when such factors that might cause variations are taken into account.  The difference in approval rates could be as much as 46% depending on which judge heard the case.  

Better Call Saul (Or Somebody Like Him)

One of the biggest variations in who gets approved turned on whether a Social Security disability applicant has a representative.

Surely You Did Not Come Here Without A Lawyer?

Per the GAO study, Social Security judges approved disability applicants with a lawyer (or other representatives) three times as often as those going it alone. 

Is Justice Blind Or Just Random?

Having such a large variation in which Social Security disability applicants get approved is not a good thing.  If judges were deciding cases on their merits, their decisions should be fairly close to uniform. A

New And Improved Method For Deciding Cases?

difference of almost 50% in who gets approved suggests that the system is approaching random status.  It also strongly hints at judges picking winners based on factors that they should not be considering.

Recommendations For Improving

The GAO issued recommendations to Social Security to assist them in getting the decision of judges to be more uniform. The GAO recommendations focused on quality control as the method to achieve this goal.  There is no way to make the system perfect, but it seems that Social Security can do better than this.

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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