Lives in the Balance: Doctors Paid for Quantity of SSD Case Reviews, Not Quality

Doctor reviewing documents

An investigation recently uncovered highly disturbing findings that doctors in Tennessee were paid for the quantity of federal disability program applications they reviewed, a system that creates a blatant disregard for proper procedure and attentiveness, and instead rewards efficiency motivated by greed.

These doctors would hastily review disability cases, denying a majority of likely viable cases in order to receive a sizeable amount of money—filling their own pockets without a care for the fates of the thousands of vulnerable people they held in the balance.

Trusting Corrupt Medical Professionals with the Fates of the Vulnerable Disabled Population

Those who apply for disability often have a serious medical condition that is expected to last for at least a year, or unfortunately, is expected to be terminal.

It is unconscionable that medical professionals, who were tasked with the important job of reviewing federal disability cases for vulnerable citizens, did not thoroughly review cases, including pages upon pages of supporting evidence. These doctors would instead skim over the information, and provide speedy verdicts that would unfairly evaluate the needs of those waiting for benefits.

The recent investigation supports a common trend of disability applicants dying waiting for a decision or facing further declining health due to the inability to afford medical treatment when benefits are denied. In fact, 9,714 people died waiting for an appeal in 2016, likely all while doctors got richer, with an indifferent swipe of a pen.

Man with Stage 4 Cancer Denied Necessary SSD Benefits by Doctor Set on Filling His Own Pockets

The article tells the story of a man, Alan Chrisman, who worked for 30 years as a Stonemason, and dutifully paid into the Social Security Disability fund throughout his career. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer which, according to the Social Security Administration’s rules, meets eligibility requirements.

Unfortunately, his request for SSD benefits was flat-out denied by Dr. Thomas Thrush.

He reviewed one case every 12 minutes in 2018. The federal standard is 1.5 cases an hour.

Thrush has earned an astounding $2.2 million reviewing cases since 2012. Meanwhile, Mr. Chrisman and his family suffered, waiting six long months to receive an answer, only to feel the crushing weight of denial while suffering the pain of Stage 4 cancer.

Lawyer Helps Apply for Reconsideration, Finds Critical Mistake, Wins SSD Benefits

There is not a sufficient amount of checks and balances for doctors such as Thrush who are entrusted to review these critical cases. This is because a negligent 2% of denied cases are reviewed by the Social Security Disability Administration.

Fortunately, Chrisman hired a lawyer who found a critical mistake that Dr. Thrush made, resulting in obtaining the benefits he needed to receive medical treatment and surgery.

Nearly 50% of Disability Offices in the U.S. Reward Doctors for Reviewing as Many Cases as Possible

The investigation’s findings are alarming, and these practices are not only confined to the offices in Tennessee. In fact, the investigation reported that nearly half of all disability offices hire doctors to act as medical consultants, creating a culture that essentially awards denials and inadequate reviews, all in the name of processing applications faster.

But the applications and supporting medical evidence that the doctors spend limited time reviewing are more than just paper, it’s about people. These applicants could be a person’s mother, father, sister, brother, friend.

You may even find yourself in need of applying. Wouldn’t you want a fair doctor to carefully review your application?

Many people unexpectedly become sick, or are born with a condition that makes it impossible to work. In fact, nearly 50 million Americans are disabled, but only about nine million receive benefits, in part due to the complicated system.

What should an applicant do to avoid delays and corruption, and improve the chances of being approved?

Contact an Experienced Lawyer to Help Guide You Through the Complicated SSD Process

If you are disabled, unfortunately, similar unjust Social Security Disability review practices could be happening in your state. In addition to potential fraud, the Social Security Disability application process is inherently complicated and confusing.

It is important to contact a skilled Social Security Disability lawyer from the beginning who knows the ins and outs of the complicated process and can help you obtain the benefits you deserve, walking you through every step of the way. Your health is incredibly important, and during this difficult time, you should be focusing on getting better, while a lawyer fights for your rights.

We Can Help

If you are disabled and unable to work, call Disability Attorneys of Michigan for a free confidential consultation. We’ll let you know if we can help you get a monthly check and help you determine if any money or assets you receive could impact your eligibility for disability benefits.

Disability Attorneys of Michigan works hard every day helping the disabled of Michigan seek the Social Security Disability benefits they need. If you are unable to work due to a physical, mental or cognitive impairment, call Disability Attorneys of Michigan now for a free consultation at 800-949- 2900.

Let Michigan’s experienced disability law firm help you get the benefits you deserve.

Disability Attorneys of Michigan, Compassionate Excellence.


I will never forget you and the hard work you did to secure my Social Security Disability benefits. Thank you!

- Christine C.