Class Action Settlement Reached in Alleged Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Bias Case
A class action settlement on behalf of over 4,200 claimants against 5 allegedly biased administrative law judges (ALJs) in New York has been reached.
In a 103-page complaint, the class members alleged that over a period of years, the 5 named ALJs regularly ignored legal protocols, knowingly intimidated and condescended claimants, ignored evidence in support of benefit awards, and disregarded orders from higher courts.
At the settlement hearing, 9 witnesses testified. Among them were claimants who had appeared before one of the ALJs in question, 5 attorneys and claimant advocates, and 2 ALJs (who were not among the 5 named in the case). All but the 2 ALJs were supportive of the settlement. The 2 ALJs objected to the settlement on the grounds that it was predicated on vague and sweeping accusations that wrongfully reflected poorly on all ALJs as opposed to just the 5 who were named in the case.
The settlement reached includes entitles all claimants who were denied either full or partial benefits by any of the 5 named ALJs to new hearings before different ALJs. Moreover, the 5 named ALJs will have all of their decisions reviewed for 30 months from the settlement approval date. Finally, the settlement includes a provision that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will conduct mandatory supplemental training and provide mentoring resources for experienced ALJs of its choosing.