Those applying for Social Security Disability Insurance may have an easier path to secure the benefits they need due to a disabling injury. While already a complex process, the Social Security Administration’s approach to filing involved a lengthier, more difficult, if not highly adversarial process.
In a significantly rare unanimous ruling, the US Supreme Court has put an end to that approach, precisely when it involves the use of administrative law judges handling disputes filed by applicants.
Nearly three years ago, the high court ruled (6-3) that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) employed an unconstitutional process to appoint administrative law judges, a method other agencies were using as well.
An obstacle removed in the application process
The most recent decision saw justices finding that arguing the constitutionality of the administrative law judge process during the initial filing should not be required to keep the right to appeal on that very issue. Defendants asserted all remedies need to be exhausted before appealing a claim.
Both Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas agreed that a mandate to explore and exhaust all options is not necessary nor appropriate. No law exists to force applicants to pursue that route. Judge Thomas added that the SSA administrative proceedings are historically informal and should remain non-adversarial for such legal maneuvers.
The decision will likely impact multiple SSDI-related cases.
While the ruling removes one obstacle, the entire process involved in applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits remains lengthy, with many applicants waiting for months and years before receiving much-needed compensation. Oftentimes, an experienced SSDI benefits attorney can help to move the process along.