Social Security:

Results of Required Reviews of Administrative Law Judge Decisions

HRD-89-48BR: Published: Jun 13, 1989. Publicly Released: Jul 17, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Social Security Administration's (SSA) process for reviewing administrative law judge (ALJ) decisions.

GAO found that: (1) since 1984, SSA has conducted random samples of ALJ disability allowance decisions for review before finalization; (2) the reviews do not assess or monitor the overall accuracy of ALJ decisions or provide feedback to ALJ on needed improvements; and (3) analysts submitted review results to SSA, but SSA did not review or evaluate the data or use it to advise ALJ in decisionmaking. GAO also found that: (1) in fiscal year 1985, analysts reviewed 6,000 ALJ disability allowances, of which SSA forwarded 91 percent for payment; (2) federal courts upheld the Appeals Council on only 12 of 136 reversals appealed to them; and (3) the sample review process caused delays in benefits receipt and increased attorney fees, but the process saved about $6.2 million in benefit payments to ineligible claimants.

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