U.S.D.C. Judge Gary Brown took the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) to task for denying our client’s claim for years, and ordered the SSA to pay her benefits.
Judge Brown criticized the SSA for its dilatory practices involving Social Security Disability (“SSD”) claims, which includes delaying litigation by moving for extensions of time to file the administrative record (“AR”). While Judge Brown rejected my opposition to the SSA’s motion to extend the time to file the AR, in today’s decision he indicated that he may deny similar extensions in the future.
Judge Brown also criticized Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Brian Crawley, whose decision Judge Brown called “indefensible,” involved “crucial errors,” and was “rife with error.” The SSA agreed that it could not defend ALJ Crawley’s decision. Nonetheless, the SSA told Judge Brown that the case should be remanded so ALJ Crawley could review the case again. Judge Brown refused to do so.
To avoid “the seemingly interminable review cycle,” the SSA was ordered to pay the claimant SSD benefits. Judge Brown asked if it was readily apparent to the SSA that the ALJ’s decision was unsupported, then, “why did reaching this fairly obvious decision require so much time, effort and expense?”
The answer to Judge Brown’s question is a cynical policy that the SSA has seemingly taken in recent years. The denial rate of the State agencies that make the initial benefit decisions has remained steady, but the ALJ denial rate has increased over the years. More importantly, the SSA has precipitously reduced the percentage of cases that it approves and remands since 2016. The SSA must believe that many claimants will not go to court, and if they do, then the court will decide if a remand is needed. The SSA has foisted its obligation to determine if a remand is needed onto the courts. The SSA probably hopes that the courts will respond by denying more cases in order to discourage appeals, and even if they do not, it significantly delays the time when the SSA has to pay benefits. The SSA does not pay interest on past due benefits.
This is our second Federal case in recent months that has been approved solely for calculation of benefits. Our client would have given up a long time ago if she had applied on her own, which is what the SSA hopes. But we do not give up, so if you need a disability attorney who will fight for you, then please call our office. We offer a free phone consultation, and have offices on Long Island in both Nassau and Suffolk counties.
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