According to a communication issued this afternoon by the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives , Social Security Disability claimants and their advocates will once again have access to the name of the Administrative Law Judge assigned to each hearing beginning on April 20, 2013. This development reverses a recent switch that occurred in mid-2012.
According to the NOSSCR communication, the change was brought about by strong Congressional interest in part thanks to NOSSCR members bringing the issue to the attention of the Congressional delegation. Additionally, Social Security has been flooded with thousands of requests for ALJ names under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and due to the fact that all of these requests had to be processed and responded to, this created yet another backlog to be dealt with, drawing resources from more important tasks.
The change reinstitutes the old process where the agency discloses the name of the ALJ assigned to a hearing when it sends the Notice of Hearing to the claimant and the claimant’s representative. This allows the representative to better prepare for the hearing based on the ALJ’s unique needs and preferences and also helps to better prepare the claimant for the hearing in terms of what to expect.
In addition to disclosing the name of the ALJ on the Notice of Hearing, SSA will also add the ALJ’s name to the Appointed Representative Services online application, allowing claimant’s representatives, such as The Advocator Group, to easily access this information online.