Social Security Administration May Begin Cracking Down on “Forum Shopping”

Social Security Administration May Begin Cracking Down on “Forum Shopping”

In the legal field, “forum shopping” refers to the practice of attempting to control the outcome of your case by influencing what court and/or judge hears your dispute. For example, if you are able to file a lawsuit against a particular defendant in more than one state, you might investigate the laws and courts of each state as well as the judges in each state to determine which jurisdiction would offer you the better chance of winning your lawsuit. This practice also occurs in Social Security disability claim cases: claimants and their lawyers or representatives have been known to request hearings in front of certain administrative law judges (and refuse hearings in front of others) in order to increase their chances of obtaining a favorable decision. This practice, however, may soon be coming to an end as the Social Security Administration (SSA) prepares to take more aggressive actions against “forum shoppers.”

Existing and Future Efforts by the SSA to Curb Forum Shopping

Forum shopping is not a new problem for the SSA: in fact, the SSA appears to have been fighting this problem since as early as 2006 or before. In 2006, the SSA attempted to amend its policies so that administrative law judges were assigned cases on a “first-in, first-out” basis. About six years later, in 2012, the SSA inspector general also recommended that the Administration redact the name of the judge assigned to a particular case when a hearing notice was sent out for that case, thereby depriving the claimant and his or her lawyer or representative from learning the name of the judge assigned to the case. Neither measure has been one hundred percent effective at eliminating forum shopping.

The SSA is certain to take more aggressive measures in the future to combat forum shopping, although it may be several years before such measures are implemented. More aggressive measures would further reduce the ability of claimants and their attorneys or representatives to know or control the outcome of their disability case.

The Antidote to Anti-Forum Shopping Measures – A Solid Case

There is another way claimants and their attorneys and representatives can control the outcome of their disability claim case: assembling and presenting a strong case with sufficient medical evidence to corroborate the claimant’s testimony. Although it takes time, effort, and resources to assemble the medical and vocational evidence necessary to present the claimant’s case in the best light possible, doing so generally leads to claims being approved more quickly.

At the Klok Law Firm, we help individuals in South Carolina apply for and receive Social Security disability benefits. We do not believe in “shortcuts” – your case is important and deserves our full attention and efforts. We make the necessary investments in researching and supporting your claim so that you have the best chance of being approved for benefits quickly. Contact our team of experienced South Carolina Social Security disability attorneys today for assistance by calling (843) 216-8860.