- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 3, 2014

House Republicans signaled this week they will pressure the Social Security Administration to crack down on administrative law judges who appear to “rubber stamp” disability benefits for applicants who had been denied at a lower tier.

In a letter to Acting SSA Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin, members of the House oversight committee said the agency put in place arbitrary production goals to clear a backlog of cases instead of protecting American taxpayers and the truly disabled.

They said judges who approve nearly all of the appeals for benefits before them should be removed, starting with four who appeared before their committee last month.

“Your failure to take action in these clear-cut cases raises serious questions about your willingness to take necessary steps to reduce the rampant mismanagement, waste and misspending on federal disability programs,” Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, California Republican, and two other members said in the letter.

For her part, Ms. Colvin told the committee her agency needs more financial support from Congress and that administrative judges who simply rubber-stamp applications are becoming rare.

Members were unmoved, saying the administration should be more reform-minded.

“Faced with evidence of widespread waste, mismanagement and abuse by ALJs in the disability determination and appeals process, you were unable to name one area of increased authority or flexibility that would help you protect taxpayer dollars,” they wrote.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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