In the midst of two probes conducted by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Congress, a second administrative law judge that handles disability cases has been placed on leave until further notice.
According to the Wall Street Journal, 78-year-old Gerald Krafsur, of Kingsport, Tennessee, has been taken out of the courtroom by the SSA – though it is not clear why. Krafsur has one of the highest rates of approving Social Security disability cases in the country, though he also has a somewhat contentious relationship with the SSA that includes a lawsuit filed last year.
Krafsur has been an administrative law judge for 21 years. In fiscal year 2011, he approved exactly 99 percent of disability claims. So far in this fiscal year, he has only denied benefits in one single case, while awarding benefits in 338 of 339 hearings. While his approval rates are extremely high, so is his productivity. In a time of a large backlog of Social Security disability cases, Krafsur moves a high number of claims through the system quickly.
However, the SSA has stated that they are not placing Krafsur on leave because of his approval rates or his productivity rates, but because of criticisms of his demeanor in the courtroom. For example, the judge has apparently asked applicants about symptoms and disorders that they hadn’t listed, such as PTSD.
In 2012, Krafsur sued the SSA, stating that his superiors were retaliating against him after he refused to pay large amounts to disability attorneys.
Krafsur has stated that he believes the applicants he approved are truly disabled and that he has made the correct decision in all of his cases. He plans on fighting to be reinstated.