This Article addresses a relatively narrow but consequential problem in the system: the inadequacy of federal judicial resolution of appeals from the denial of Social Security disability benefits. It addresses the problem with an equally narrow, and hopefully equally consequential, solution: granting a published district court decision in such a case the power of binding precedent with respect to the judicial district in which the opinion is issued. In so doing, greater uniformity, consistency, fairness, and efficiency would be brought to a process that is badly in need of all.
The Article proceeds in five parts. Part I provides some brief background on binding precedent in the court system generally. With that background in mind, Part II surveys the Social Security disability process, summarizing its basic structure. Part III then transitions into a discussion of the federal courts’ role in the process, focusing on the problems afflicting their decisions: inconsistency, lack of appellate guidance, unfairness, unpredictability, and inefficiency. To solve those problems, Part IV proposes imbuing all published federal district court opinions in Social Security appeals with the force of binding law with respect to all other judges in the district. Finally, Part V applies the proposal, demonstrating how this reform would help deal with each of the flaws in the process.
Recommended CitationJonah J. Horwitz, Social Insecurity: A Modest Proposal for Remedying Federal District Court Inconsistency in Social Security Cases, 34 Pace L. Rev. 30 (2014)
Available at: http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/plr/vol34/iss1/2