Monday, February 29, 2016

ALJ Quotas

Last year, a federal appellate court rejected a lawsuit by Social Security Administration (“SSA”) Administrative Law Judges (“ALJ’s”) that had challenged the SSA’s requiring ALJs to decide between 500 and 700 cases annually. The court said that while some ALJs might dismiss more cases than they would have preferred to do, the increased caseload did not interfere with decisional independence. 

Last year, ALJ Weiss dismissed an SSD case that did not even address the findings and opinions from the primary treating physician, a psychiatrist. The decision was so contrary to the ALJ’s typically cogent decisions that my appeal comments stated: 

“Presumably, the ALJ had a quota to meet, and had somebody else write the Decision for him, which he never bothered to review.” 

It appears that my supposition was correct. The Appeals Council remanded the claim for reconsideration of the psychiatrist’s opinion. The ALJ approved the claim today without an additional hearing based on the psychiatrist’s findings and conclusions, which shows the ALJ would have approved the claim initially had he been able to spend more time on it.

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