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Social Security disability program

I heartily agree with your concern that trial lawyers are suffocating a large part of American life. I worked for 35 years in the Social Security disability program. In the 60s, the program was a simple, effective one. We were true civil servants doing a good job. Without going into the complicated history here, the program degenerated into a bureaucracy, and we became bureaucrats. In stepped the lawyers. They litigated for procedures that add nothing to the quality of decisions. They succeeded in inflicting a mountain of paperwork on state agencies and administrative law judges that has slowed processing time dramatically. I do not claim that lawyers created the problem. The program began its downhill slide long before they came on the scene in droves, but they magnified the problem greatly when they arrived. They have been instrumental in pressing the judges to make hundreds of thousands of unjustifiable grants of disability, especially since 1993. The end result is: Not only is processing time at a snail's pace, but the taxpayer is paying roughly $15 billion a year in unwarranted benefits to over a million people on the rolls who should not be there. And that is just from my little corner of the world. -- Bob Burgess, Cedar Creek, Tex.


As an attorney working in this system for ten years, I have a different perspective. We deal on a daily basis with consultative examinations performed by doctors working for the disability agency that are fraudulent, administrative law judges who ignore the plain mandate of the law because they have a personal feeling the claimant is able to work and many other manifestations of a system run amok. My remedy would be draconian: fire everybody: state agency bureaucrats, administrative law judges, lawyers on both sides, and instead let a panel of physicians decide whether disability exists. Better than that, discontinue the whole system