by Susan Golden
It is a well known fact that the process of applying for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits and waiting for a decision, can take months, or even years. You cannot continue to work if you want to apply for SSD, yet, you’re expected to live without income and wait, while the system slowly churns.
Social Security’s excuse for their long delays in processing a claim has always been that they are understaffed and backlogged. While this in part may be true, the bulk of the delays seem to be due to a simple lack of caring. While there are many concerned and committed workers at the SSA, they seem to be more of a rarity, as a lot of the more experienced employees retire. So many cases are delayed simply because a file sits on someone’s desk for days, weeks and even months.
We represent a claimant who applied for SSD benefits on December 5, 2017. The claimant became unable to work a fulltime job on June 15, 2016, and contacted us in December of 2017, seeking our services. Unfortunately, he passed away 3 months before his initial hearing. He left behind a wife and two children, who were his world. Five months after his hearing, his claim was denied by ALJ John Carlton at the Bronx hearing office. This is an unusually long period of time for a Judge to take to make a decision.
We appealed the claim at the Appeals Council (“AC”) and it was denied three months later, in December of 2019. We subsequently filed suit in Federal Court, and the case was remanded for another hearing. The order was signed and issued by Federal Court Judge Ronnie Abrams on July 6, 2021, and sent back to the AC to process and send back to the hearing office.
It then took the AC an unusually long six months to send a letter to AlJ Carlton, advising him that our claimant’s case had been remanded for further proceedings. Two weeks later, we sent a letter to ALJ Carlton, reminding him that the claim was supposed to be expedited, even though the AC didn’t treat it as such, and asked that the hearing be scheduled.
Our client’s remanded hearing was held on June 8, 2022, six months after we requested ALJ Carlton to have the hearing scheduled, and almost a year after Judge Abrams issued her decision for a remand.
Four months have passed since the June 8th hearing, and ALJ Carlton has not made a decision. In fact, he has not even looked at the case. We have called the Bronx hearing office on a number of occasions to ask why this is so. We were simply told the case is with the ALJ, and there is nothing they can do. In the beginning of August, we sent a letter to ALJ Carlton, on behalf of our claimant’s wife and children, asking him to please make a decision on the case, as there was no new evidence to submit since the claimant has been deceased since prior to the original hearing in April of 2019.
Regrettably, our request has fallen on deaf ears, and has been completely ignored. Our claimant’s wife is understandably angry and upset at the way her husband’s case has been handled, and feels that their children deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. The delays in this case have been unconscionable.
This week, we sent a letter to Chief Judge Selwyn S. Walters, at the Bronx hearing office, respectfully asking him to speak with ALJ Carlton, to avoid any further delays, and to ask him to make it a priority to make a decision on this case.Previous Next
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