Houston Social Security
Disability Attorney

Photo of David Dopkin
Photo of David Dopkin

Skepticism, bias can lead to unfair disability denials

On Behalf of | May 27, 2020 | Social Security Disability

Imagine this: You worked hard your entire life. Eventually, your body broke down, and you developed a host of disabling conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, liver disease, coronary artery disease and other associated conditions. Together, they’re far too limiting to allow you to keep working. You file for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits and your claim is denied repeatedly until you finally stand in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ) at your hearing. The judge agrees that your conditions can “reasonably” cause a disability.

Then, your claim is denied again.

That’s exactly what happened to one man who fought to get his disability denial overturned through a federal lawsuit. It’s also what happens — all the time — to other applicants who don’t have the luxury of taking their claims forward simply because they expire before they ever have the chance.

Why do so many disabled people — all of whom suffer from terrible illnesses and disorders that eventually claim their lives — end up denied Social Security benefits? According to one U.S. District Judge, there’s a “pervasive attitude among many administrative law judges to view applicants with skepticism.” He also noted that the ALJ that heard the above-mentioned claim issued 25% more denials than the national average.

What does this tell you if you’re about to file for Social Security Disability benefits yourself? That there are plenty of prejudices out there that you’ll have to overcome — including the idea that disability applicants are always exaggerating their symptoms or looking for a “free ride.” You may even encounter this attitude from people who should know better — like ALJs.

Over and over, news stories detail how agency doctors, examiners and judges are handling more cases than they should — and making subjective decisions that may be influenced by their personal biases. It’s more essential than ever to have experienced representation with your claim as early as possible to maximize your chances of approval.