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Spencer Bishins-Social Security Disability Scandal Revealed

Spencer Bishins-Social Security Disability Scandal Revealed
Sep 2, 2022 · 50m 52s

Spencer Bishins, a former Social Security Administration attorney, says administrative law judges often are "incentivized" to decline disability claims in order to keep the agency's "pay rate" low resulting in...

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Spencer Bishins, a former Social Security Administration attorney, says administrative law judges often are "incentivized" to decline disability claims in order to keep the agency's "pay rate" low resulting in only about 50 percent of disability requests being approved.

On the Lean to the Left podcast, Bishins reveals the common practices used by the agency to discourage approval of disability claims, and says that intervention by members of Congress on behalf of constituents requesting help is generally meaningless.


"The administrative law judges are federal employees, so they have supervisors," Bishins points out. Those supervisors are under pressure to keep costs down, so they encourage the judges to deny claims, often by requiring them to take additional training or denying their ability to telework. Or, they may be "encouraged" to retire or accept a transfer.

"They are training them or incentivizing them to get their pay rates down. It is happening
and the statistics show that it's happening," Bishins says.

What Bishins describes seems like a near scandal. Think about who is filing claims for Social Security disability: it is people who, for one reason or another, cannot work. Perhaps they have a serious illness, were injured. Whatever, if they can't work they cannot earn a living. And if they can't do that, how are they supposed to care for their families? That's why we have the Social Security disability program in the first place, and why it is paid for by the SSA taxes that we all fork over with every paycheck.

Bishins has a master’s degree from the London School of Economics, and a law degree from Florida State University. After law school, he worked in the private sector for two years prior to joining the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 2010.

He worked at the Appeals Council for almost four years, reviewing thousands of disability decisions for compliance with SSA’s complex rules and procedures. He then worked at the hearing level for seven years, where he drafted almost 2,000 decisions for SSA Administrative Law Judges.

After working for SSA for more than 10 years, he wanted to help demystify the complicated disability system. His first book, Social Security Disability Revealed: Why it’s so hard to access benefits and what you can do about it, explores the obstacles that disability claimants face as they try to access benefits.

Written in 2022, Bishins reveals the inner workings of the disability system, explains how the system works – and doesn’t. He breaks down the complicated disability rules, timelines, jargon, and processes, so his book is for claimants, representatives, family, friends, counselors, caregivers, social workers, case workers, advocates, and anyone who interacts with disability applicants. More info at www.bishinspublishing.com.

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Author Bob Gatty
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