Gerald Krafsur said he has trouble getting the evidence he needs to make good decisions. (AP photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

One of the administrative law judges who decides Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim cases said procedural rules hamper efforts to make reasonable SSDI decisions. Gerald Krafsur, an administrative law judge in Kingsport, Tenn., is one of the SSDI system judges who appeared today at a hearing on the SSDI determination appeals process organized by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Krafsur worked for Ford Motor Company for years and began working as an administrative law judge in 1991. He said the Social Security Administration (SSA) determination process rules keep him from deposing the people who send him records.

At the hearings themselves, one side — the claimant’s side — presents evidence, and the other side, the SSA, fails to present any verifiable evidence, Krafsur said, according to a written version of his testimony posted on the committee website. The judge explained that he sometimes would like to have the SSA perform medical, psychological and psychiatric tests on claimants, and that he generally cannot do so.

Another problem is that the organization that handles the claim reviews – the Office of Disability and Adjudication and Review (ODAR) — is physically part of the SSA, according to Krafsur. If ODAR were separate from the SSA, and appeals of ODAR decisions went directly to the federal court system rather than to another layer of reviewers at the SSA, that would improve the determination process.