Since inception, the Social Security Disability program has always allowed claimants the opportunity of a fair hearing before an impartial and expert, Social Security Disability Judge. That is, if a claim is denied by the Social Security Administration at the administrative level, a claimant seeking Social Security Disability has the opportunity to appeal the denial and have the case heard “de novo” (fresh from the start) by a Social Security Judge who is neutral and independent of the Social Security Administration. According to Social Security Disability Attorney, Randy Zeldin, Esq., Social Security Judges in the Ft. Lauderdale District, which includes Broward, Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie Counties, are fair and impartial and endeavor to give the benefit of the doubt to claimants who have been denied benefits.
Unfortunately, Social Security Judges who practice with fairness, impartiality and expertise about the Social Security Disability laws, is now at risk because of an Executive Order from President Trump. Trump is proposing that Social Security Judges will no longer be hired as a result of a competitive civil service examination, but instead selected by agency heads who could make political appointments, based on patronage or political party affiliation. Social Security Disability Attorney Randy Zeldin, Esq., fears that a political process for selecting Social Security Judges, could result in selections who lack any experience or expertise in the complicated Social Security Disability laws and regulations. Worse yet, the likely outcome is Social Security Judges who will deny claims at a much higher historic rate, in order to curry favor with politicians and bureaucrats who dislike the Social Security Disability system and seek its demise and dismemberment. J. Jeremiah Mahoney, past president of he Federal Administrative Law Judges Conference, opined that any lawyer “that walked by on the street,” could be appointed as a Social Security Judge, regardless of knowledge of the law. Under current civil service rules, a Social Security Judge required a minimum of seven years experience, before appointment was even a possibility-this basic requirement now to be eliminated! Separately, Sen. Richard Neal fears that Social Security Judges will be appointed on the basis of “ideology and political orientation” rather than merit.
The National Organization of Social Security Claims Representative (NOSSCR) has condemned Trump’s Executive Order and is lobbying to prevent its implementation. Lisa Ekman of NOSSCR, recently stated that implementation of the Trump Order, could undo a system of judicial neutrality, which has governed Social Security since its inception by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.