ALJ Removed From Office

January 27, 2016

From a recent NOSSCR bulletin:

Substantial evidence supported the decision of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) which found that an ALJ’s failure to acceptably manage his cases provided good cause for his removal.  The presiding ALJ assessed the ALJ’s productivity and concluded that cases assigned to the ALJ were the same or similar to all other judges in the region, yet “despite the extraordinary efforts to assist him, to mentor him, and to train him” the ALJ performed fewer than 200 cases per year, far below the average of approximately 600 cases per year for judges in the ALJ’s hearing office and region.  The Board’s decision to remove the ALJ for good cause was affirmed by the federal court.

This update is an interesting accompaniment to last week’s post about the lengthy wait times for hearings.

The Jacksonville Office of Disability Adjudication and Review continues to hold steady in average processing times (#134 out of 163 offices nation-wide).  Recent figures show an average of 560 days to process a claim, similar to figures I posted in November.  Overall, Florida continues to have difficulty processing claims with Miami being dead last, taking an average of 729 days to process.

I follow Social Security news pretty regularly but somehow it escaped my notice that the SSA now has a blog called “Social Security Matters”.  It was launched in 2015 and has covered topics including facts about Medicare, the best age to retire and the perennially favorite “Top Baby Names” (spoiler:  Noah and Emma).

I encourage you to keep up with SSA issues at



SSA released allowance rates both nationally and by state.  Nationally, 2015 allowance rates are as follows:

Initial applications – 32.9%

Reconsideration – 11.5 %

The state of Florida has rates that are a little worse overall with only 30.5% being approve initially and 10.7 approved at the reconsideration level.

I am often surprised by the number of people who call me and suggest that “no one” gets approved when they apply.  The fact is that nationally, almost 33% of people are approved after they file an application.  State-by-state rates show numbers ranging from 25-50%.  Over the past three fiscal years, three states show initial approval rates routinely upward of 46%:  Alaska, Wyoming and New Hampshire.  Mississippi shows the lowest rates, typically hovering at 20% on the initial application

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