North Carolina Social Security Disability Quandary: How much does your ALJ matter?

July 7, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina social security disability applicants who take their cases to Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) might like to think that all judges are essentially equal — that all judges use a similar standard for accepting or denying appeals.

But a recent expose in USA Today reveals that your choice of judge can profoundly influence your results. The Social Security Administration – which supports 1,400 Administrative Law Judges around the country – only recently allowed the judges’ numbers to be posted on the official government website. The USA Today story says that both the Inspector General at the SSA and the U.S. Congress have noted a huge discrepancy – some ALJs accept WAY more appeals than others. But both authorities are loathe to interfere with the independence of judges.

According to the USA Today article, two outlier judges include:

• Judith Showalter, an ALJ from Dover, Delaware, who denied 82% of her nearly 300 claims this year.

• Huntington West Virginia judge, David Daugherty, who denied just 119 out of nearly 8,400 claims since October 2004. (Incidentally, his radically low rate, combined with an inappropriately cozy relationship with an attorney, led the SSA to put him on indefinite leave).

The whimsical and arbitrary nature of these ALJ statistics create an extra layer of uncertainty for hurt workers who desperately need North Carolina social security disability to pay bills, fund medical treatment, and strive for rehabilitation amid tough circumstances.

If you or a family member you care about has been struggling with how to approach an ALJ hearing or any other aspect of an SSD or SSI claim, a well respected North Carolina social security disability law firm can provide the guidance, resources, and strategic knowledge you need to make the progress you want to make.

More Web Resources:

Administrative Law Judges (ALJs)

Huntington West Virginia judge, David Daugherty