Our office is still waiting on confirmation from the Hearings Offices in Memphis, Little Rock, Franklin and Tupelo, but NOSSCR is reporting that the SSA is now reversing its “Secret ALJ” policy. The policy was adopted last year after a publicly embarrassing scandal involving a handful of ALJs in Appalachia awarding benefits to nearly 100% of their cases.
Because of the fear that one or two Administrative Law Judges were inappropriately
colluding with a couple of attorneys, the Social Security Administration
decided that “Judge shopping” was a pressing problem nationally.
The Administration reacted by ordering every hearings office in the country
to cease telling claimants who the presiding Judge would be in their cases.
From the start this policy has been derided by attorneys and judges alike.
I have personally had numerous cases in the Memphis office delayed because
we could not tell to which ALJs potential clients were assigned.
This is great news and a welcome change from the Administration. According
to NOSSCR, the ODARs will start telling claimants and their attorneys
the names of their Judges effective April 20.