Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Waynesboro Member Selected Social Security Judge

By Beth Michaels

Kevin Sullivan, a member of Potomac Conference’s Waynesboro (Va.) church, was recently sworn in as an administrative appeals judge for the Social Security Administration (SSA) for their office in Baltimore. Judge Patricia A. Jonas, who serves as the executive director of Social Security’s Office of Appellate Operations, selected Sullivan from a pool of highly qualified and competent candidates after only serving three years with the SSA as an appeals officer. Sullivan is now one of 44 administrative appeals judges who serve on the Appeals Council.

“I joined the Social Security Administration in the hope of someday becoming a judge, and expected that the process would take five to 10 years,” Sullivan explains. “The fact that I became a judge after only three years stems from Social Security’s current need for additional judges to try and speed up the adjudication process. I also believe that God’s hand was in the selection process.”

Sullivan’s career in disability law started when he felt impressed by God to use his legal training to work for the poor. After volunteering for a short time at a local legal aid agency, they hired him full-time on their Social Security team. In 2006 Sullivan started his work with the SSA as an adjudicator, “making determinations of disability at the initial level of appeal,” he explains. Soon he became an appeals officer, “reviewing decisions made by an administrative law judge, to ensure that the decision was proper under the law,” he says. 

According to Sullivan, more than 2.5 million individuals apply for Social Security disability benefits each year. In light of the economic hardships, SSA anticipates over 3.3 million applications this year, as the unemployed look for ways to make ends meet. Anyone whose claim is denied at a hearing can request to have their case reviewed by the Appeals Council, which issues between 5,000 and 10,000 decisions each month. 
“As I adjust to my new responsibilities as an administrative Appeals judge, I will need to seek God’s wisdom more than ever. Yet, I have no doubt that God’s hand has directed my path, and that He will assist me to do my best in the work before me,” Sullivan concludes. “I am very grateful for this opportunity to serve my Lord and the American public.” 












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