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Baltimore City Paper
July 5, 2011

Disparity Found Among Disability Judges
By Edward Ericson, Jr.

In San Anto­nio, Texas, peo­ple hop­ing to get Social Secu­rity dis­abil­ity pay­ments could see their cases assigned to any of 17 judges. The luck of this draw mat­ters a lot. One of the judges grants ben­e­fits in just 14 per­cent of cases. Another judge hands over benefits—which range from about $700 per month to about twice that—92 per­cent of the time. That 78 per­cent dis­par­ity rate makes San Anto­nio the sec­ond most lottery-like sys­tem in the Social Secu­rity Administration’s arch­i­pel­ago of hear­ing offices, accord­ing to a data analy­sis by the Trans­ac­tional Records Access Clear­ing­house, a non-profit research orga­ni­za­tion housed at Syra­cuse Uni­ver­sity. (Dal­las is num­ber one, with 83 per­cent disparity). “To a sur­pris­ing extent the records on dis­abil­ity deci­sions show again and again that even within the indi­vid­ual offices there is not a clear con­sen­sus among the judges about which claims should be awarded ver­sus which should be denied,” the authors of the report , David Burn­ham and Sue Long, write. “The prob­lem today is some­what worse than it was four and a half years ago.”

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2011
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