Social Security Hearing Denials in Alaska

 

April 15, 2013

Anchorage, AK - The Disability Law Center would like bring to your attention a troubling trend that is having a significant negative impact on Alaskans with disabilities and their eligibility for Social Security benefits. The application process for Social Security benefits can involve multiple steps. If a claimant's initial application is denied, they have the right to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge where they can contest the denial. While statistics show that the approval rate of initial applications in Alaska is consistent with national rates, it is a very different story at the hearing level. Alaskans with disabilities are losing their hearings at nearly twice the rate as similarly situated claimants in the lower-48.

The Disability Law Center and other Social Security advocates are trying to ascertain the underlying cause(s) for this trend. A few of the issues that we are looking at include:

  • Staffing at the Anchorage Office of Disability Adjudication and Review;
  • The increased use of nurse practitioners and physician assistants – the Administrative Law Judges do not always give full faith and credit to the reports prepared by these providers;
  • The high number of claimants in Alaska who are not represented at their hearing by a lawyer or other qualified advocate; and
  • The high rate at which hearing requests are being dismissed.

If you have any information that could contribute to this discussion and review, please respond to this email or contact Dave Fleurant at the Disability Law Center. For more information and data about this problem click here.

Related Data: Disability Judges

Update: 05/20/13 Letter from Senator Begich to Social Security Administration (SSA)
Update: 06/20/13 Response to Senator Begich from Acting Commissioner SSA
Update: 03/03/14 Alaska State Legislature - House Joint Resolution
Update: March 2014 DLC Reply to Acting SSA Commissioner's Letter
Update: 04/30/14 Letter from Senator Begich to Acting Commissioner SSA
Update: 06/12/14 Response to Senator Begich from Acting Commissioner SSA