Social Security Judges Sue Over Disability Caseload

April 23, 2013

The union representing the administrative law judges who hear appeals of disability benefits cases accused the U.S. Social Security Administration Thursday of illegally imposing an annual case quota on them, in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Illinois.  The Association of Administrative Law Judges asked the court to impose an injunction preventing the SSA from enforcing a requirement that they issue decisions in a certain number of cases per year.  Judges claim the quota requirement improperly influences their decision-making.  Judges who fail to meet quotas, even by 5 or 10 decisions are required to account in writing why they fell short and may receive informal reprimands.  The judges claim the quotas are prohibited under a settlement reached in the 1970s.  In an October 2007 memo to judges, the then-Chief Administrative Law Judge instructed judges to manage their dockets in a way that would allow them to issue 500-700 legally sufficient decisions per yet.  The pressure to clear so many cakes per year affects some administrative law judges’ judicial independence.

It will be interesting to see the outcome of this case.

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