Thursday, January 26, 2012
Your Right to Know Judge in SSDI Hearing
A Social Security disability hearing process policy change may affect many of you. When you are scheduled for a Social Security
disability hearing you will no longer know the identity of the ALJ which will decide your case until the day of the hearing.
Social Security says the reason for this change is to keep lawyers from forum shopping to get more favorable judges. I am
not aware of any attorneys that do this but I do not believe it is fair to the claimant's or lawyers that do not partake in
this practice. Knowing which ALJ will be presiding over the hearing is extremely important in the proper representation of
the claimant at the hearing. Each individual ALJ has their own likes and dislikes and how we cases presented to them. When
I prepare for hearing what questions I asked and how asked them often depends on the ALJ handling the case. Lawyers spend
a significant amount of time preparing for hearings and past experiences with ALJ's is extremely important in the preparation.
We as lawyers also have to prepare our clients for the hearing by giving them an idea of the types of questions that will
be asked. Attorneys can of course cover every possible question that could be asked but certain ALJ's find some questions
more important than others and this certainly more efficient to know what is important to a particular judge before showing
up for the hearing. I believe it is a due process violation for Social Security not to inform us who the judge will be. The
client has a right to properly present their claim and this is hindered by being left in the dark about who will decide their
claim. I hope that Social Security will reconsiders policy since I believe it is unfair to claimants and will ultimately slow
down the adjudication of SSDI claims.
5:19 pm est