The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform issued a report and held hearings in an attempt to show that the Social Security disability program awards benefits too easily, with judges “rubber stamping” claims. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the Chairman of the Committee, questioned four administrative law judges who were singled out for their high approval rates. However, there are nearly 1,400 judges in the system; some of them have very low approval rates, but those judges were not questioned.
Rather than looking at the approval rates for any one judge, a more important measurement is overall approval rates, which, as Andrew G. Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute points out, have declined significantly, from 72 percent in 2005 to 56 percent in 2013. Social Security disability standards are strict, and it is becoming more difficult for applicants to receive benefits.
Many observers have pointed out that the attempt to portray disability beneficiaries as undeserving cheats, and Social Security as a system that pays too much out in benefits, is part of a divide and conquer strategy that uses America’s most vulnerable citizens as scapegoats for budget cuts that would harm people in need.