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Jul 12, 2011

Commissioner Astrue's Testimony Yesterday: Budget, ALJ Hiring, ALJ Discipline, Limiting ALJs To 1,200 Hearings Per Year

Some excerpts from Commissioner Astrue's written testimony at a Congressional hearing yesterday:
... [T]o continue our progress [in reducing the hearing backlog], we need Congress’ help. We must receive full funding of the FY 2012 President’s Budget request. ... Unless Congress provides us with the President’s Budget, we will not be able to meet Congress’ goal and our commitment to the American public to eliminate the hearing backlog in 2013 although our margin for error is slim. The gains that we achieved will vanish. The additional funding we received in recent years was critical to achieving our success to date. ...
Budget permitting, we would like to hire 125 ALJs in September of FY 2012 [Not September 2011 but September 2012 and that is if the budget permits. I would regard that as most unlikely] ...
The Administration [Note the use of "the Administration" which appears to indicate that he is talking for the Obama Administration.]  is open to exploring options for addressing ["the small number of judges who underperform or do not apply the statute fairly"] , if it is done in consultation with ALJs, other Federal agencies, and other stakeholders and mindful of the importance of preserving the decisional independence of these judges. Areas to explore could include examining statistical evidence showing very significant variation between the decisions of a small number of ALJs and the decisions of other agency ALJs (whether in the direction of approving or denying claims) and peer review by other ALJs.[This paragraph sounds like something that was negotiated or at least something that was gone over very, very carefully by several people.] ...
We have taken affirmative steps to address egregiously underperforming ALJs. With the promulgation of our “time and place” regulation, we have eliminated arguable ambiguities regarding our authority to manage scheduling, and we have taken steps to ensure that judges are deciding neither too few nor too many cases. By management instruction, we are limiting assignment of new cases to no more than 1,200 cases annually.[This will affect only one or two ALJs with the most prominent one affected being Fred McGrath of Atlanta.]

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    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    mcgrath held to 1200? may god bless the Atl North HOCALJ

    10:19 AM, July 12, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I Guess Judge McGrath will be forced into taking 8 months of vacation!
    Actually, if he used VEs in his hearings, that would probably slow him down to the 100 per month max.

    2:42 PM, July 12, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    His hearings last five minutes and don't involve the taking of testimony. Nor do they involve any prior review of the file. No wonder he can do 4000 a year.

    7:45 AM, July 13, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    So, if I do my 1,200 cases (affirmations or pay, and remands denying the cases not paid the first time around), what should the assigned duties be for the rest of the year?
    Read the Act and Regulations?
    Cut out paper dolls?
    Drove tho HOCALJ and staff crazy? (or in a few hearing offices, have sex with staff)?

    2:31 PM, July 13, 2011  

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