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Disability determinations made by the Social Security Administration’s administrative law judges are subject to judicial review by Article III courts. By statute, these courts apply the “substantial evidence” standard of review on appeal from the agency. The substantial evidence standard is a forgiving one that defers to the findings of the agency. But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has modified this standard. It now reviews certain categories of SSA findings not only for substantial evidence, but for support by “clear and convincing reasons.” This heightened standard of review is facially at odds with the statutorily mandated substantial evidence standard. It also undercuts the principle of deference given to the initial factfinder by the substantial evidence standard of review.

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