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Did the Administrative Law Judge Commit Bias?

Posted on in Social Security Disability

I was reading the September issue of NOSSCR and came across an interesting article discussing possible bias in the courtroom during a Social Security disability case. The disability claim focused on whether the claimant would qualify as disabled under section 12.05C of the Listing of Impairments, Mental Retardation. 12.05C addresses whether an individual's verbal, performance, or full scale IQ is between 60-70 and if there is any other physical or other mental impairment imposing additional and significant work related limitation of function. Information on this listing can be found at SSA's Listing of Impairments.

During the claimant's trial, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) made the following statement:

"And I'll tell you my thinking about this just so we're on the same page. Mentally retarded people can hold jobs. They need a little more structure, they need somebody to remind them to get them up every morning and appropriately cleaned and dressed and to get them there, but once they're there, you know, if the environment is structured and they have a little lunch pail they should be able to get there and, you know, they can be taught to get to someplace, either they can be dropped off, I've seen them on the bus, you know." Listing 12.05C-Possible ALJ Bias. NOSSCR. Volume 31, Number 9, September 2009, Page 8.

The government tried to argue that "the ALJ's statements were merely intended to illuminate the reasons why an additional limitation is required in finding a mentally retarded person to be disabled." On the other hand, when the issue of bias was brought to court it was found that "the statements are also suggestive of possible bias on the ALJ's part." Listing 12.05C-Possible ALJ Bias. NOSSCR. Volume 31, Number 9, September 2009, Page 8.

My question for my readers is whether you feel that in general the ALJ demonstrated bias in his in court comments? Please feel free to respond in the comments section below.

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