Are Social Security judges actually independent of the Social Security Administration in the SSDI appeal process?
“I’m an administrative law judge with the Social Security Administration. I’m going to make a new and independent decision. I’m not bound by any prior decisions made in your claim”
You will hear an introductory statement like this when you meet your judge at your hearing. What does he mean? Most importantly, is it true that the judge is really fair and independent?
The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) appeal process is supposed to guarantee that your case will be adjudicated by a judge who is independent of Social Security Administration control or influence. That judicial independence is critical to justice itself is reflected by the fact that the guarantee is enshrined in our earliest founding document – our Constitution.
Protection of judicial independence has been written into historic legislation that seeks to preserve the responsibility of your judge to decide your case without influence from anyone or anything but the facts of your case and the laws as they are written.
Judicial independence for Social Security judges is very much under attack in the current 114th Congress as part of a broader attack on the SSDI program itself. How fundamentally wrong this attack is will be explained in a series of posts to this blog that will follow events as they unfold.
It’s a little complicated, so we’ll start at the beginning, with the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, in the next post.