In Michigan, after Social Security denies an application, many clients choose to appeal the denial to an impartial Administrative Law Judge. After a year or two wait, their case finally makes it before a judge who has to decide whether or not the person is truly disabled under the law. The claimant presents his or her case, and the judge makes a decision.
Senator Coburn now proposes the idea of adding US government attorneys to the ALJ hearing process on pages 545 and 546 of his Back in Black publication. In the Senator’s own words:
Under this proposal, the attorney for the government would also be responsible for developing and submitting evidence that the claimant is not suitable for disability benefits, which under current law, the claimant is not required to submit. The government would be represented at the ALJ disability hearing.
Attorneys who represent claimants in these hearings are against this measure. The hallmark of the Social Security system is that it’s non-adversarial. Disabled claimants are simply trying to get the government to recognize their inability to work because of physical and/or mental impairments.
When I sit back and think about it, there is one scenario where I would be able to support the idea of having an a government attorney oppose benefits at the ALJ hearing – if we got to present out case to a jury that made the ultimate disability determination.
B. Thomas Golden is a Michigan attorney who practices Social Security disability and SSI law. He handles Social Security disability and SSI appeals, hearings, and applications. He has offices in Ionia and Lowell, Michigan. For more information, please call his office directly at (616)897-2900.