Northern Indiana attorney Thomas Scully has recently written to local newspapers and Internet media outlets expressing concern for Social Security disability claimants. At the heart of Scully’s concerns is the fact that the SSA appears to have shut down its Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) in the Miller area. This office had previously served Social Security disability claimants from Gary, Hammond, and East Chicago.
The reason this ODAR is so critical is that it was the place where Social Security disability claimants from the area would go to attend their hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. In some instances, this hearing was live and on site. In other instances, the hearing was conducted by means of closed circuit television, with the administrative law judge hearing the case from a remote location.
Mr. Scully expressed concern that those who had already been disabled and out of work long enough to reach it to the hearing process ( this often takes two years) may not have the resources to travel the 30 miles needed to get to the next closest ODAR. This is especially true when you consider that public transportation in the area is less than ideal.
While it’s not unusual for a lawyer (especially one who deals with Social Security claims on a regular bass) to advocate on behalf of those who are seeking or already receiving Social Security disability benefits, this case has the potential to gain traction if it garners enough attention from news readers.
Social Security recipients (particularly senior citizens) have already been justifiably upset with recent developments regarding Social Security benefits. Undoubtedly, this will become more and more of an issue as people begun to realize that continuing to appeal the determination on their Social Security claims is going to mean an hour round trip every time they have the opportunity to speak before their administrative law judge.