ACUS Draft Report
From a draft report of the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) (emphasis added):
In order to promote greater decisional consistency and streamline the adjudication process at the ALJ [Administrative Law Judge] hearing stage, SSA [Social Security Administration] should consider:
(a) requiring claimants or their representatives to submit pre-hearing briefs in a standardized format that, among other things , summarizes the medical evidence and justification for claimants’ eligibility for benefits;
(b) expanding the use of video hearings, in a manner consistent with sound technological practices, that balances improved efficiency (i.e., timeliness and costs of adjudication) and fairness of the proceedings and participants’ satisfaction with them. SSA may wish to offer incentives to claimants who opt for video hearings, such as faster scheduling of hearings (as compared to in - person hearings) or more convenient hearing locations; and
(c) exploring the assignment of decisionwriters and case technicians to specific ALJs in a hearing office (with Hearing Office Directors continuing to supervise such support staff ), while maintaining flexibility for changes in technological and operational needs....
Expanding “Own Motion” Review. In order to focus attention on the decisions that are most likely to warrant review, thereby enhancing both efficiency and programmatic consistency, SSA should expand the Appeals Council’s use of own motion review in a manner consistent with ALJ decisional independence. If necessary to achieve this goal, SSA should consider revising its existing regulations through notice - and - comment rulemaking. The Appeals Council should use published neutral and objective criteria, including focused statistical sampling , to identify those ALJs whose decision rates for allowances or denials place them significantly outside the rates of the majority of their peers. SSA must also ensure that selection of review criteria is do ne without referenc ing, or targeting, particular ALJs or other decisionmakers, and that inclusion of cases in such review does not serve as the basis for evaluation or discipline. ...
SSA should consider revising its regulations to eliminate the controlling weight aspect of the treating source rule. Instead, SSA should consider giving ALJs greater discretion and flexibility when determining the appropriate weight to afford opinions from treating sources, in line with the factors enumerated in the current regulatory scheme for evaluation of opinions from medical professionals who are not deemed “treating sources.”I wonder if the ACUS Chair will be testifying at the House Social Security Subcommittee hearing this week.