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Are the disability courts in need of change? One judge says yes

Published on February 14th, 2014

Last month, our blog discussed how hundreds of retired emergency responders in New York City are currently facing criminal charges for the fraudulent collection of disability benefits. Not surprisingly, this scandal has sparked an ongoing dialogue concerning what can be done to prevent this type of widespread fraud from reoccurring with the Social Security Disability system.

While some of the suggestions stemming from this dialogue can be easily discounted as ill reasoned or even excessively punitive, others are actually incredibly insightful and could prove highly beneficial over the course of time.

To that end, today’s post will take a closer look at some of the suggestions for improvement made by an acting disability judge for the Social Security Administration.

The disability judge in question, D. Randall Frye, made at least two very intriguing suggestions for improving the SSD courts in a recent op-ed piece published in The New York Times:

  • Allowing disability judges to access social media: According to Frye, current SSA policy prohibits both disability judges and those who review initial claims from accessing any type of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.). He argues that social media evidence, as demonstrated by the NYC emergency responder scandal, can go a long way toward proving the veracity of a disability claim.
  • Allowing the federal government to have an attorney present: Frye argues that SSD courts, which constitute one of the largest judicial systems in the U.S if not the entire world, would be greatly served by allowing the federal government to have an attorney present at disability hearings. Modernizing hearings such that each side was represented by a zealous advocate, he argues, would not only ensure the proper questions are asked and the evidence fully reviewed, but also enable judges to streamline the proceedings.

Frye goes on to conclude that implementing these measures would help ensure that the SSD courts are more transparent and even more trustworthy. Perhaps more significantly, he states that it would help ensure that those taxpayers who have contributed their fair share into the disability insurance fund over the years and who are now in real need of financial assistance don’t see their SSD benefits unfairly jeopardized by otherwise unscrupulous parties.

What are your thoughts on this op-ed piece? Do you agree with the suggestions?

If you would like to learn more about your rights and your options for securing SSD benefits, consider contacting an experienced and dedicated attorney who can help guide you through the complex process.

Source: The New York Times, “Fixing disability courts,” D. Randall Frye, Jan. 19, 2013

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