Tulsa Disability Attorney: ALJ Union Files Lawsuit, Claims Illegal Case Quota

On April 19, a union representing Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) filed a lawsuit claiming that its members are subject to an illegal quota that requires them to decide an average of more than two cases per day. The Association of Administrative Law Judges filed the lawsuit in a Chicago federal court. The lawsuit names the Social Security Administration (SSA) and acting SSA commissioner Carolyn Colvin as defendants. The union represents 1,400 ALJs.

“When the goals are too high, the easy way out is to pay the case,” Randall Frye, the president of the Association of Administrative Law Judges told the Associated Press. “Paying the case is a decision that might be three pages long. When you deny benefits, it’s usually a 15- or 20-page denial that takes a lot more time and effort.”

The SSA has a productivity goal for ALJs to hear 500 to 700 cases per year. The judges’ union says the goal results in judges hearing more than two cases per day, on average. The SSA has declined to comment on the lawsuit; however, former SSA commissioner Michael Astrue dismissed the union’s claims.

“What’s really happening here is that the judges’ union doesn’t want accountability of its members and it’s been trying to sell this story to the media and to the Congress and to the agency for a very long time,” Astrue told the AP. “And no one’s buying it because it’s not true, and no federal judge is going to buy this story, either.”

“There are a very small number of malcontents who want to litigate or put political pressure on the agency rather than do their work,” Astrue concluded.

It will be interesting to see how this case plays out—during the 2012 fiscal year, nearly 850,000 people filed a disability claim appeal. The majority of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applications and reconsideration cases are denied, leading to a hearing before an ALJ.

We will continue to update you on this story. If you have questions about applying for disability benefits, contact a Tulsa Social Security Disability attorney. We offer free evaluations of your case, and you may reach us by phone at (918) 265-1404. Contact us today to learn more about your rights.

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