Policy Changes in Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Disclosure
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has recently reviewed and reversed its unpopular policy of withholding the name of the ALJ assigned to hear a case until the day of the hearing.
As of April 20, the SSA and the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) began including the name of the ALJ assigned to a case in the Notice of Hearing sent to a claimant a minimum of 20 days prior to the date of the hearing, as well as to the Appointed Representative Services (ARS) online application. In other words, both a claimant and his or her representative, if there is one, now have access to the name of the ALJ assigned to the case well in advance of the hearing.
The prior nondisclosure policy was unpopular with many law firms, as attorneys were required to submit a time-consuming Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in order to obtain the names of ALJs assigned to their clients’ cases. Having an ALJ’s name ahead of time allows a claimant’s appointed representative sufficient time to comply with a specific ALJ’s expectations for the hearing (different ALJs have different expectations), communicate with the ALJ before the hearing if necessary, and work out any scheduling conflicts beforehand.