Lexington, KY (PRWEB) July 20, 2013
Congressional scrutiny of an apparently high approval rate on appeals of denied Social Security disability benefits claims could result in a stricter review process, making it more difficult for claimants to get the benefits they need and deserve, Frank M. Jenkins III, a Lexington Social Security disability benefits lawyer, said today.
“Congress has been weighing in on the backlog of Social Security disability applications for some time now, and a new report indicates that some members are questioning whether some approvals are legitimate,” said Jenkins, founder of the Frank Jenkins Law Office.
He was referring to an Associated Press (AP) article that appeared in the Washington Post. The June 27 article was entitled “Judges tell lawmakers they are pressured to approve Social Security disability claims.”
“Congress has oversight of the Social Security disability program, and the questions and the concerns of members will clearly have some influence over the process – not necessarily for the good of applicants,” Jenkins said.
Congressional investigators said in September 2012 that a huge backlog of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applications was leading Administrative Law Judges to approve initially denied claims with little or no scrutiny. The report is titled “Social Security Disability Programs: Improving the Quality of Benefit Award Decisions.”
Last month, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said it was investigating why many judges have high approval rates for claims already rejected twice by field offices or state agencies, the AP reported.
The AP report quoted Administrative Law Judges who said Social Security Administration directors were pressuring judges to approve claims as a means of reducing the backlog. But Deputy Social Security Commissioner Glenn Sklar said the vast majority of disability claims are initially denied.
Jenkins’ firm helps Kentucky SSDI applicants obtain benefits, often by representing them during the appeals process after a claim has initially been denied.
“We’ve always told clients and potential clients that they should not give up after an initial denial because so many rejected claims are approved on appeal,” Jenkins said. “The suggestion that Administrative Law Judges want to, or are being pressured to, approve claims is another indication that filing an appeal is worth the time and effort.”
But, Jenkins said, the reverse could soon be true.
“We’re concerned now that Congressional pressure may cause judges to look harder for a reason to reject a claim for Social Security Disability benefits,” the veteran attorney said. “But that doesn’t mean people with valid claims should not fight for the benefits they deserve.”
SSDI provides financial benefits to individuals who meet the federal government’s strict criteria for a permanent disability that prevents them from working. The Social Security Administration says the backlog is due to members of the swollen baby boom generation reaching ages when disabling injuries and illnesses are more likely.
The number of people receiving Social Security disability benefits has increased by 44 percent in the past decade, the AP says.
“People who are truly disabled need and deserve these benefits,” Jenkins said. “Our services at the Frank Jenkins Law Office are available to ensure a deserving applicant’s SSDI claim is complete and accurate and is able to work its way through the approval process successfully with as little delay as possible.”
About the Frank Jenkins Law Office
Frank M. Jenkins III founded The Frank Jenkins Law Office, based in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1997 with one primary goal in mind: Providing legal help to Kentucky residents entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and to those who have suffered serious personal injuries because of the fault of others. During the firm’s 15 years of practice, it has handled Social Security disability matters on behalf of individuals living in metropolitan Lexington and throughout Central and Eastern Kentucky, including Berea, Georgetown, Nicholasville, Richmond, Paris, Versailles, Winchester and nearby communities. The firm’s disability benefits practice areas include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), long-term disability and short-term disability benefits. The firm’s office is located at 631 East Main Street, Lexington, KY 40508 (local phone (859) 389-9344). To learn more, call 1-800-WORKERS or use the firm’s online contact form.